Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake have called for the Confederate flag to be eliminated from Maryland license plates and state-issued property, as Kelly-Ann Brown writes for the Howard University News Service in an article that appeared in Frost Illustrated. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Texas to deny requests from car owners for specialty license plates that feature the Confederate flag, writes Steven P. Grossman for The Baltimore Sun. The high court’s decision came on June 18, one day after the racially motivated shooting in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina.
As of June 22, nine states allowed the Confederate Flag symbol on vehicle license plates, and Maryland is the only one of the nine that was not part of the Confederacy, Grossman writes. The other eight states (Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Virginia, and Tennessee) seceded from the Union during the Civil War and were part of the Confederate States of America, as Grossman writes. Although Maryland allowed slavery in 1861, and many of its residents agreed with the southern states, it never seceded from the Union, Grossman writes.
Confederate troops displayed the Confederate flag during the Civil War, and in the 20th Century that flag was adopted by white supremacist groups, segregationists, and civil rights opponents, writes Yvonne Wenger for The Baltimore Sun. Wenger writes that Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, partnered with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, in taking steps to remove all of the Sons of Confederate Veterans license plates from the two states. Large retailers Amazon, eBay, Sears, and Wal-Mart have stopped carrying Confederate flag merchandise as well, Wenger writes.
Brown quotes Prince George’s County, Maryland County Council Chairman Mel Franklin, who said in a statement: “The Confederate Flag is a divisive symbol in our nation’s history and has no place on any official government licenses or documentation in the state of Maryland.” In addition, a document signed by more than 70 Maryland state senators and delegates asks Maryland Secretary of Transportation Peter Rahn and Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administrator Milton Chaffee to stop providing license plates showing the Confederate flag, Brown writes.
The June 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Walker v. Texas, Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), established a legal precedent, Brown writes. By writing, “We hold that Texas’s specialty license plate designs constitute government speech and that Texas was consequently entitled to refuse to issue plates featuring the SCV’s proposed design,” the Court opened the door for Maryland and other states to reject confederate flag designs on car license plates if they so choose, Brown writes.