Va. lawmaker files bill to bring back license plates with Confederate flag.
( Story from Richmond Times Dispatch)
A state senator wants to return the Confederate battle flag to government-issued license plates after Gov. Terry McAuliffe ordered the flag emblem removed.
Sen. Charles W. Carrico Sr., a Republican from Southwest Virginia, has filed a bill to allow the Sons of Confederate Veterans to use a battle-flag logo on the group's specialty plate, the same logo McAuliffe directed the state to phase out last summer.
"I think it goes too far to ban it," Carrico, R-Grayson, said in an interview. "I'm not a racist, but I believe we learn from our mistakes and our accomplishments and if we start erasing history with this, where do we stop?"
The governor ordered the Confederate logo off state plates in June, calling its display "unnecessarily divisive and hurtful." The move came as leaders across the South grappled with Confederate symbols in the wake of the racially motivated killings of nine African-American churchgoers in South Carolina.
Carrico's proposal shows there will be some level of legislative involvement in a heated debate involving race, history and free speech. But the bill faces long odds, largely due to the fact that the General Assembly never intended to allow the Confederate-flag plates to begin with.
House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, has said the flag should not be on state-issued plates, a position his office retierated when asked about Carrico's legislation.
"The speaker believes the General Assembly got it right when it passed the original law in 1999, which did not allow for the use of the battle flag emblem," said Howell spokesman Matt Moran.
If Carrico's proposal were to pass the General Assembly, McAuliffe would veto it, according to the governor's office.
"The governor made it clear that there is no place for hurtful and divisive symbols on Virginia license plates," said McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy. "If legislation to return the Confederate flag to the plates passes, he will veto it the day it reaches his desk."
After McAuliffe's announcement, Carrico said, the senator asked his Facebook followers to weigh in on the license-plate issue. The response, he said, was clear.
"They feel that the governor went too far," Carrico said. "And I represent my district first and foremost."
Virginia, which offers more than 200 specialty plate designs, was forced to issue license plates with the SCV's Confederate-flag logo by a federal court order in 2002 after the group argued that denial violated its members' free-speech rights. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a separate case this summer cleared the way for the McAuliffe administration to phase out the plates and have the earlier court order dissolved.
Carrico's bill amends the original legislation that created the SCV plates to remove language prohibiting any logo or emblem from being incorporated into the plate design. That prohibition was key to the state's successful argument in federal court that, because the Supreme Court ruled that specialty plates represent government speech, the state should be allowed to recall the controversial plates.
The group's members haven't been eager to surrender their plates.
As of late October, about 200 sets of plates had been mailed back to the Department of Motor Vehicles out of roughly 1,600 in circulation. The old plates expired in early October, and SCV members were encouraged to swap them out for new plates that included the group's name, but not the logo.
Though the SCV failed to stop the recall in court, The Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties organization based in Charlottesville, has filed a new legal challenge in Brunswick County Circuit Court on behalf of Leonard Tracy Clary, the head of the SCV's Virginia division.
"We certainly hope that the situation can be reversed," Clary said. "We feel like we've been discriminated against. Other organizations have been allowed to display their logo on the license plates. And we're not."
BY GRAHAM MOOMAW
Sen. Charles W. Carrico Sr
It's nice to see an Elected Official who refuses to cave in to the P.C. Leftist
and has the Testicular Fortitude to try to do something.