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Miss. Leader in Court Over Flag

May 2, 2000

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ A dispute over whether Mississippi’s lieutenant governor has violated the state constitution in the feud over whether to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag is now before the state Supreme Court.

Seven black state senators have sued Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck over her refusal to allow them to express their displeasure over legislative proceedings through a long-standing practice of reading bills.

In a stalling tactic designed to highlight their concerns, black leaders wanted 110 budget bills read aloud before final passage. Reading a bill can take more than a half-hour.

Tuck, the Senate’s presiding officer, refused their requests.

A chancery judge, Denise Owens, has issued an order that prohibited Tuck from stopping bills from being read, ruling that a ``failure to read in full a conference report″ violates the constitution.

Late Monday, a three-judge panel of the state Supreme Court blocked enforcement of Owens’ ruling until they could hear from both sides today.

Tuck said Monday she did not think the Legislature should get involved in the flag issue because ``right now we have more pressing matters.″

The state flag has the design of the Confederate battle flag _ red background and blue diagonal stripes containing 13 white stars _ in an upper corner. The flag debate in Mississippi has not yet taken on the proportions of the dispute in South Carolina, where a boycott has cost the state millions of tourism dollars.

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