A Federal Appeals Court on Monday ruled that the state of Texas must issue specialty license plates with Confederate flags, ruling that denying them violated the First Amendment.
The Texas Department of Motor Vehicle rejected a specialty plate from the Sons of Confederate Veterans in 2011, which the court argued violated the free speech rights of the Confederate group. The judges ruled that the DMV engaged in “viewpoint discrimination” by not allowing certain specialty plates to be issued.
John McConnell, an attorney for the Sons of Confederate Veterans said the ruling confirms that “the government cannot step into an issue and silence one side while endorsing the viewpoint of the other side,” according to the Dallas Morning News.
The NAACP condemned the ruling.
“This is a sad day for African-Americans and others victimized by hate groups in this state,” said Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP.
The three-judge appeals court panel overturned a decision by a U.S. District Court judge, who ruled that the First Amendment doesn’t require Texas to print a group’s flag on property controlled by the government.
Nine other states issue Confederate flag license plates, including Georgia, according to the Dallas Morning News.
[H/t Think Progress]