Posted on September 29, 2021

Court Says City Can Ban Confederate Flag in Veterans Parade

Associated Press, September 28, 2021

A Georgia city did not violate the constitutional rights of a Sons of Confederate Veterans group when it banned the Confederate battle flag from its annual parade honoring veterans of American wars, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Richard Leake and Michael Dean sued Alpharetta, an Atlanta suburb, in August 2019 after city officials said the Sons of Confederate Veterans could participate in the annual Old Soldiers Day Parade but could not display the battle flag. The federal civil rights lawsuit accused the city of violating the group’s right to free speech under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

U.S. District Judge William Ray in June 2020 ruled in favor of the city, finding that the parade amounted to government speech. Leake and Dean appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel of the appeals court heard arguments in the case on Friday and on Tuesday issued an opinion upholding the lower court’s ruling.

“Because governments are not obliged under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to permit the presence of a rebellious army’s battle flag in the pro-veterans parades that they fund and organize, we affirm,” Circuit Chief Judge William Pryor wrote in the opinion.


While the city of Alpharetta emerged victorious Tuesday, the dispute ultimately led city officials to end the parade.


The parade took place as planned. The Sons of Confederate Veterans group did not participate, and instead their sympathizers flew the Confederate battle flag along the parade route.

A few months later, in December 2019, the Alpharetta City Council voted to stop using taxpayer money to fund the Old Soldiers Day Parade, effectively ending it. Alpharetta is a city of more than 57,000 people located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of downtown Atlanta.