Image: Texas Dept of Motor Vehicles/AP
The official flag of the Confederacy, popularly known as the Stars and Bars, was a field of three red and white horizontal stripes with a blue field in the upper left corner containing seven white stars arranged in a circle. Unfortunately, it was close enough to the Union flag that the two could be easily confused on the battlefield.
Confederate troops in the field, therefore – including the 1st Texas Heavy Artillery at the battle of Sabine Pass in September 1863 – carried the Confederate battle flag, a square red field with a white-fringed blue X in the center containing thirteen white stars. The Confederate battle flag, known affectionately as the Southern Cross, was never the official flag of the Confederacy.
An elongated version of the battle flag, known as the Confederate navy jack, was flown by Confederate ships and is the version that flies proudly today over the South Carolina Capitol building. Unfortunately, the navy jack, a symbol of States’ Rights, has been hijacked by hate groups such as neo-Nazis and has been denounced as a symbol of slavery by Black leaches such as Al Sharpton.
The State of Texas, like many other States, issues specialty license plates commemorating an event or an organization. To date there have been 480 such plates issued. Anyone can have their own specialty plates stamped for a fee – well, almost anyone.
In 2011, a Texas organization known as Sons of Confederate Veterans applied for a specialty plate that contains a representation of the Confederate battle flag – the original square version, not the Confederate navy jack that’s used by KKK clones to promote White supremacy.
The Texas motor vehicle board rejected the design, citing their opinion that it would be “offensive” to some Texans. The Sons of Confederate Veterans sued. After he 5th Circuit Court of Appeals found for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the State appealed, and on Monday 23 March, the case reached the Supreme Court.
Austin attorney R. James George Jr. argued Monday that the license plates are protected under the First Amendment as free speech, while Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller argued that free speech is not being inhibited because the driver can still place a bumper sticker next to the license plate. He further argued that the plates have the word “Texas” on them and hence represent State speech.
But when justice Elena Kagan Asked Solicitor General Keller, “Does that have any limits ? Suppose that Texas approved a license plate that said ‘Vote Republican,’ but refused to approve a license plate that said ‘Vote Democratic?'” Mr. Keller was speechless.
The Justices asked many interesting questions during Monday’s open arguments, apparently trying to maintain an aura of decorum in the face of such childishness. And I have a question of my own. “What in blazes is the State of Texas doing arguing in front of the Supreme Court over a license plate?”
Nine southern States allow license plates with the Confederate battle flag displayed. Furthermore, as someone has pointed out, you can buy a license plate frame brandishing the battle flag at any truck stop.
And who gave the State of Texas the authority to protect us from being “offended?” I would strongly suggest that Attorney General Paxton focus his efforts on the business of Texas and stop persecuting its citizens on the basis of their political allegiances.
G E Kruckeberg