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US state revokes license plates featuring Confederate flag

August 7, 2015

DANVILLE, Virginia (AP) — The U.S. state of Virginia has revoked specialty license plates featuring a Confederate battle flag after a federal judge reversed a lower court’s ruling allowing the image.

Debate about the Confederate flag, which represented the pro-slavery southern states in the U.S. civil war, gained new traction after the June mass shooting of nine black worshippers at a church in South Carolina, in what police say was an attack motivated by racial hatred. The white man charged in the slayings had posed with a Confederate battle flag in photos posted online before the killings.

The Department of Motor Vehicles in Virginia will begin recalling and replacing existing plates, Attorney General Mark Herring’s office said Thursday evening.

U.S. District Judge Jackson L. Kiser had issued an injunction in 2001 that allowed the image of the Confederate flag on specialty plates honoring the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. Kiser said in a Thursday order that his decision is “no longer good law” because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Texas case that said specialty license plates represent the state’s speech, and not the driver’s speech.

The DMV will work with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a heritage association, to design new plates. Once the plates are manufactured, they will be sent to affected motorists, officials said.

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