Texas officials fight against Confederate flag license plate

A group of Texas officials have said they oppose Texas offering drivers specialty license plates that have the Confederate flag on them, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles board will vote on Nov. 10 on whether to allow the plate to be manufactured. A previous vote in April ended in a 4-4 tie with one member absent, the Houston Chronicle reports.

On Saturday, the officials told a crowd of community leaders outside the Civil Courthouse in downtown Houston that they will go to Austin on the day of the vote to press the TxDMV to vote against the plate, the Houston Chronicle reports. “We cannot allow the state to issue a symbol of intimidation,” U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, said.

Nineteen state representatives have sent a letter to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles board expressing their opposition, KUT News reports.

The Texas branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, an organization for the male descendants of men who served as Confederate soldiers, has been lobbying for the plate for about two years, KUT News reports.

“We’ve used this flag for honorable purposes since 1896 to recognize and honor the veterans and it’s our logo and we believe that we have the right to have our logo on that license plate to honor those veterans,” Sons of Confederate Veterans member Ray James told KUT News.

“The debate has been driven by a fear of offending people,” Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a sponsor of the proposed plate, told the Wall Street Journal. “There is too much concern about political correctness.”

The Sons of Confederate Veterans said it would file a lawsuit to allow the plate if the TxDMV votes it down, the Wall Street Journal reports.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

The group won court rulings in Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia compelling those states to allow flag-emblazoned license plates after state agencies initially rejected the plates as objectionable. It won another court ruling in March, in a Florida lawsuit filed after the state legislature failed to approve a plate; its bid for a plate is still pending.

“It ends up becoming a free-speech battle in court,” Ben Sewell, executive director of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, told the Wall Street Journal. “We have not lost a case yet.”

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