A federal appeals court has blocked an African-American attorney’s effort to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the Mississippi state flag. He says he’ll take the case to the Supreme Court.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Friday that it would not revive a lawsuit rejected by a lower court. Carlos Moore filed the suit in 2016, saying that the flag is “state-sanctioned hate speech.”
Moore said he is disappointed with the ruling from the New Orleans-based appeals court, which came less than four weeks after judges there heard arguments for and against reviving the suit.
“If we ever get to the merits of the case, I believe we will be able to show the state flag was created with a discriminatory intent and has a negative impact on African-Americans,” Moore said in a written statement to The Associated Press. “Once those two things are proven, the state Confederate flag will finally come down for good.”
Mississippi’s state flag has been used since 1894 and is the last in the nation to prominently feature the Confederate battle emblem – a red field topped by a blue X dotted with 13 white stars. In a 2001 referendum, voters chose to keep it.
Opponents say the flag is a reminder of slavery and segregation, while supporters say it represents history and heritage.
A spokesman for Republican Gov. Phil Bryant did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the appeals court’s decision. Bryant has said he thinks if the flag design is going to be changed, it should be done in another statewide vote.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves dismissed Moore’s suit in September, saying Moore lacked legal standing to sue because he failed to show the emblem caused an identifiable legal injury. The appeals court agreed Friday.
Moore had asked the appeals court to order Reeves to hold a trial on the merits of the lawsuit.
On behalf of Bryant, state assistant attorneys general Douglas Miracle and Harold Pizzetta wrote in arguments to the appeals court: “The district court was correct that Moore fails to identify that part of the Constitution that guarantees a legal right to be free of anxiety.”
Like other Confederate symbols, the Mississippi flag has come under increased scrutiny since the June 2015 killings of black worshippers in South Carolina. The white man convicted in 2016 in that case had posed with the Confederate battle flag in photos published online. Several cities and counties and seven of Mississippi’s eight public universities have stopped flying the state flag. (AP)