Posted on July 23, 2014

Court Rules Texas Can’t Ban Sale of Confederate Flag License Plates

Maya Srikrishnan, Los Angeles Times, July 15, 2014

A federal court ruled that the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles could not prohibit the sale of specialty license plates featuring an image of the Confederate flag.

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 on Monday that the Texas department had violated the 1st Amendment rights of members of  the Sons of Confederate Veterans group by rejecting their application for the specialty plates.

In the majority opinion, the court found that the board of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles had “engaged in impermissible viewpoint discrimination” when it rejected the license plates in 2011.

The decision overturns a decision in April by U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, who ruled that the state had the right to reject the plates.

The Texas attorney general’s office, which represented the department, told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that it would appeal the decision.

The proposed license plates feature the Sons of Confederate Veterans logo–a Confederate battle flag framed on all four sides by the words “Sons of Confederate Veterans 1896.” {snip}

“By rejecting the plate because it was offensive, the board discriminated against Texas SCV’s view that the Confederate flag is a symbol of sacrifice, independence, and Southern heritage,” Judges Edward Prado and Jennifer Elrod said.


Nine other states currently have license plates containing images of the Confederate flag,  all designed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. In seven of these, the Tennessee-based group had to sue and win for the right to sell the plates, according to Davis. The group also has pending litigation about the license plates in Florida.