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Appeals court upholds dismissal of suit over Confederate plates

A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit over North Carolina's decision to stop issuing specialty license plates with the Confederate battle flag.

Confederate_flag_license_plate_NC.JPG
N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles

The North Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans had sued the state Division of Motor Vehicles last year, saying the new policy violated its rights to free speech, due process, and equal protection. A lower court dismissed the case, saying it "found no claim upon which relief may be granted."

On Thursday, a 3-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond said it found no reason to reverse the lower-court ruling.

North Carolina issued the plates for 20 years. The design included the Sons of Confederate Veterans insignia, with a Confederate battle flag. But the state changed the policy in January 2021 amid concerns that some would find the flag offensive.

The DMV said it had received complaints about the specialty plates. "We have therefore concluded that display of the Confederate battle flag is inappropriate for display on specialty license plates, which remain property of the state," the DMV said at the time.

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David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.
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