Monday, December 12, 2011

Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans file Lawsuit against the DMV


Image from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles

The Texas Division Sons of Confederate Veterans has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, asserting  that the DMV infringed on the Confederate's free speech rights by refusing to issue a specialty license plate which would have featured a Confederate flag. Below is a press release from the Texas SCV which was issued in conjunction with the filing of the lawsuit: 

On  December 8th, 2011 a complaint was filed in pursuant of 42
U.S.C. §1983 to vindicate the rights secured to the “Texas Division Sons
of Confederate Veterans” by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the
Constitution.

The Texas SCV is a non-profit organization that works diligently to
preserve the memory and reputation of the Confederate soldiers,
emphasizing the virtues of their fight for the preservation of liberty
and freedom. Like many other non-profit organizations in Texas, the
Texas SCV sought from the State of Texas, through the Department Motor
Vehicles Board, approval of a specialty license plate, both to raise
awareness of their endeavors and to raise additional money to fund their
activities.

This action is in regards to the recent denial of the specialty license
application presented to the Department of Motor Vehicles Board by the
Texas Division Sons of Confederate Veterans. Currently, the SCV has
specialty automobile license plates available to vehicle drivers in
Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, Maryland, Mississippi, Louisiana,
South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

The Texas SCV initially applied for a specialty license plate in Texas
with the Department of Transportation, the proper agency at the time, in
August 2009. That application was denied by the Department of
Transportation.

In 2009, the Texas Legislature amended the Transportation Code to
provide that the Department of Motor Vehicles, rather than the
Department of Transportation, was charged with issuing specialty license
plates. The license plate function moved to the new Department of Motor
Vehicles on November 1, 2009. At the time the Texas SCV reapplied with
the new governing department, to hopefully have a specialty plate in
advance of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, April 12, 2011. The official
public comments were heavily in favor of the Texas SCV’s application for
a specialty plate. Following commentary by both proponents and
opponents, the Board rejected the SCV plate at the hearing by an 8-0
vote without any discussion. At the same hearing, the Buffalo Soldiers
plate, without any discussion, was approved by a 5-3 vote. Since the
Department of Motor Vehicle Board has been charged with issuing
specialty license plates, the Sons of the Confederate Veterans plate is
the first, and only, to be rejected.

Through the members of the Department of Motor Vehicles Board, the State
of Texas has discriminated against the Texas SCV based on the ideas and
message that the Texas SCV supports, in clear violation of the First
Amendment. The Board seeks to bar the Texas SCV from expressing their
viewpoint while allowing all other groups to express their viewpoint:
this type of restriction is exactly the type which the First Amendment
is designed to erase. The only guideline that the Transportation Code
has to offer, which the Board referenced as its reason for rejecting the
plate, is that the Board can reject a plate “if the design might be
offensive to any member of the public…” This, however, cannot be the
standard. It is vague and indeterminable. Essentially, it is no
standard at all to say that the Board can discriminate based upon a
viewpoint if such speech is offensive to anyone. The First Amendment
clearly protects controversial speech. Additionally, even if simply
being “offensive to any member of the public” was sufficient to allow
for rejection, the State has approved numerous plates that are
“offensive to any member of the public.” In fact, the plate approved the
very same day as the Texas SCV plate was rejected – the Buffalo Soldier
plate – is offensive to Native Americans because the all-black cavalry
helped fight Native Americans in the Indian Wars from 1867-1888.

Accordingly, the Texas SCV seeks appropriate injunctive relief,
requiring the State of Texas to approve the Texas SCV’s application and
implement the specialty plate.

Granvel J. Block
Commander Texas Division
Sons of Confederate Veteran

1 comment:

  1. I agree with the SCV, and Mr Block. However I am not as nice as Mr Block when it comes to ' Buffalo Soldiers '. I don't mean to be too harsh when it comes to private soldiers, and after the War ( 1865 ) these men would have needed jobs like all working class people do. Federal actions, if not publicly stated policy, more than seemed to be of a genocidal nature. Somewhat like being a private in the Nazi SS. Just because the native people fought for their geographic homeland doesn't make it a noble cause to kill them all in order to take whatever homes they had from them in order to please a bunch of Republicans. I am sure there were quite a few former Confederates involved in that disgusting activity, and that doesn't make it right either. I hold the black Confederate Soldier in a much brighter light.

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