Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) on Tuesday announced that he has begun the process to remove Confederate flag symbols from state-issued license plates following a Supreme Court decision on the matter and the renewed debate in South Carolina over the flag.
“As Governor Haley said yesterday, her state can ill afford to let this symbol continue to divide the people of South Carolina,” he said in a Tuesday statement. “I believe the same is true here in Virginia. Although the battle flag is not flown here on Capitol Square, it has been the subject of considerable controversy, and it divides many of our people.”
McAuliffe cited a recent Supreme Court decision, in which the justices ruled that the state of Texas could reject a license plate submitted by the Sons of Confederate Veterans that features the Confederate battle flag.
The governor indicated that that while the Sons of Confederate Veterans plate may still be allowed, the flag symbol should be removed.
“While it is true that legislation passed by the General Assembly in 1999 requires specialty license plates for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the legislation specifically attempted to prevent the Confederate emblem from being part of the design. Federal court decisions, however, required DMV to allow the emblem in the design,” McAuliffe said.
“Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could indeed prevent the confederate emblem from being placed on their license plates, directly contradicting the prior court rulings in Virginia,” he continued. “Accordingly, I have directed the following actions to remove the Confederate emblem from state-issued license plates.”
McAuliffe said that he has asked the state attorney general to work to reverse the court ruling allowing state license plates to feature the Confederate flag, and that he asked the state secretary of transportation to work on a plan to replace the plates with Confederate flags on them.
On Monday, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) called for the state to remove the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds in Columbia.
Lawmakers in other states quickly followed suit to address Confederate symbols in their states. Lawmakers in Tennessee have called for the state capitol to remove the bust of a Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, and the Republican speaker of the Mississippi state house called for the state to remove the Confederate flag symbol from its state flag.
Late Update at 11:55 a.m.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) on Tuesday said he would work to remove the Confederate flag from state-issued license plates, calling the flag a “divisive symbol” of “oppression and injustice.”
AG Herring’s statement on removing Confederate battle flag from Virginia license plates: pic.twitter.com/TlncxCHACF
— AG Mark Herring (@AGMarkHerring) June 23, 2015