In November, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles unanimously rejected an application for a specialty license plate displaying the Confederate battle flag. The Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans has now filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn that decision.
The Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans filed a complaint Thursday in U.S. District Court in Austin against the eight DMV board members who voted.
It’s arguing its First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated. The DMV says it has yet to see the complaint.
Texas officials turned down a Sons of Confederate Veterans’ request for a specialty plate three years ago, citing rules that banned political or controversial plates. The rules changed two years ago, and the board has since approved all 89 proposed specialty designs.
“We said if we don’t get the plates we’re going to sue them,” Marshall Davis, a spokesman for the group in Austin, told The Times. “There are other organizations that have had to sue their states to get their 1st Amendment rights, and this is the same thing.”
Davis said his group was optimistic it would prevail because “a precedent has been set” in other states.
Nine other states have approved Sons of Confederate Veterans’ specialty plates, but Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina only did so after the group sued. A similar suit is pending in Florida.
Davis said the design, which features a Confederate flag as part of the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ logo, honors veterans. He said the group planned to use proceeds from plate sales, a portion of which return to the sponsoring group, to educate the public about Civil War history.
Many people, including Governor Perry, expressed opposition to the plates. You can see the SCV’s statement here. I couldn’t find a copy of the suit itself anywhere. I’m sure this will eventually wind up before the Texas Supreme Court, so I expect it will be a few years before we get a final ruling.