By Travis Fain, WRAL statehouse reporter
Raleigh, N.C. — The state won’t issue or renew any more license plates with the Confederate battle flag on them, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles confirmed Monday.
The policy took effect Jan. 1 after the DMV “determined that license plates bearing the Confederate battle flag have the potential to offend those who view them,” the agency said in a statement. The state won’t issue plates bearing the flag or any variation of it.
This primarily affects members of the North Carolina Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans, which sued more than two decades ago to get plates made along the lines of other groups with specialty plates. The DMV said Monday that its decision is consistent with that case, which dealt primarily with whether the SCV should be classified as a civic organization entitled to its own special license plate.
“DMV will continue to recognize the North Carolina Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans (“SCV”) as a civic organization entitled to the issuance of a specialty plate,” the DMV said Monday. “However, SCV’s classification as a civic organization does not entitle it to dictate the contents of the government speech on that specialty plate.”
But N.C. Sons of Confederate Veterans spokesman Frank Powell said the group believes the change is illegal. He said the SCV’s legal team is reviewing options.
“The DMV is violating the law, pure and simple,” said Powell. “They are violating a court order by not issuing these plates.”
The Confederate flag is part of the SCV’s logo, and it’s the logo that appears on the specialty license plates. There are 2,527 of them in circulation, according to the state.
“The DMV doesn’t get to choose what logo we use,” Powell said Monday.
“The state telling a nonprofit group they have to change their logo is the very definition of state-sponsored speech,” he added. “One of our missions is education, to teach people about the Confederate flag and that it is not offensive. It has been misused by hate groups in the past but those same groups have misused numerous other symbols. Are we going to ban all those symbols they misused, like the Christian flag or the Unites States flag?”
The DMV said it has tried to work with the SCV to develop other artwork and will continue to do so, but “these efforts have proven unsuccessful so far.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by WCT staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)