Supreme Court refuses to label Confederate flag emblem unconstitutional

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a case involving the constitutionality of the Confederate flag emblem on Mississippi's state flag.  A black lawyer argued that the emblem should be banned because it represented white supremacy.

But a lower court refused to hear the suit because the lawyer did not have standing to sue.  The Supreme Court issued its ruling without comment.


In his appeal to the Supreme Court, Moore argued that the lower court interpreted the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause too narrowly.

He called for the Supreme Court to declare Mississippi statutes on how the flag should be designed and displayed as unconstitutional. He also wanted the justices to deem unconstitutional a statute that called for schoolchildren in the state – such as his own daughter – to be taught "proper respect" for the flag and for the " 'official pledge of the State of Mississippi,' which reads: I salute the flag of Mississippi and the sovereign state for which it stands with pride in her history and achievements and with confidence in her future under the guidance of Almighty God."

"The message in Mississippi's flag has always been one of racial hostility and insult and it is pervasive and unavoidable by both children and adults," Moore's appeal reads. "The state's continued expression of its message of racial disparagement sends a message to African-American citizens of Mississippi that they are second class citizens."

Moore said in court documents that for him, exposure to the flag is "painful, threatening, and offensive." He added that seeing the flag at courthouses creates a "hostile work and business environment."

In a Facebook post shared by his law firm on Monday, Moore praised his lawyers for "a valiant fight." He wrote: "If the state flag is to change it will be up to the people or the elected representatives. The public sentiment continues to change and I trust the flag will change in due season."

He told The Associated Press that he has received five death threats because of the lawsuit.

Moore's case was listed as one of dozens of cases that the Supreme Court decided not to take up, as is standard for the top court.

Moore's novel approach to banning the Confederate flag failed largely because the Supreme Court hates novelty.  His suit was based on talking points, not the law, and certainly not on any recognizable 14th Amendment claim.

Activists will claim that the Supreme Court "endorsed" the use of the Confederate flag as an emblem of the state, but that's simply not the case.  If a state wants to ban the Confederate flag from its own standard – as several Southern states have done – that's their business.  But the court's decision not to hear Moore's suit reinforces the idea that there are some limits on federal power, and the state's decision to recognize its problematic heritage by including the controversial flag is well within its rights.

I think more than anything else, whether or not an individual or a state decides to display the Confederate flag, it is a matter of freedom of expression and up to either the individual or the people of a sovereign state.  Does it offend people to display the flag?  No doubt.  But being offended by a symbol is no reason to ban it.  No one, as far as I know, has ever sued to ban the Black Power flag or any other offensive sign indicating black separatism or nationalism.  So why should the Confederate flag be singled out for special treatment?

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