[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Monday that the city of New Orleans could remove three statues honoring members of the Confederacy, rejecting the appeal of several historic preservation organizations and the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The court stated that the appellants failed to show “irreparable harm” to the statues and stated that the claims “wholly lack legal viability or support.” The statues, which honor Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Robert E Lee and PGT Beauregard, were called a “nuisance” by the mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu [official website]. A fourth statue, the Battle of Liberty Place monument, had already been moved.
Debate has intensified in the past years over the acceptability of confederate symbols in everyday life. Last year a federal lawsuit was filed [JURIST report] against the governor of Mississippi challenging the state flag, the last one in the country that bears the Confederate battle emblem. In August 2015 a judge in Texas denied a request for a temporary restraining order to halt the University of Texas at Austin from relocating a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis [JURIST report]. In July 2015 it came to light that Dylann Roof, who was convicted of the murder of nine black church members in South Carolina, prominently posed with the confederate flag. Also in July South Carolina removed [JURIST report] the Confederate flag from the state house. In June 2015 the US Supreme Court ruled that state governments can restrict [JURIST report] the kinds of messages printed on specialty license plates after the Sons of Confederate Veterans argued that the Texas government’s refusal to issue specialty license plates including an image of the Confederate flag violated the First Amendment.