Dean Julius Isaacson Professor of Law Steven Grossman contributed an op-ed to The Baltimore Sun, “It’s past time for Maryland and others to ban Confederate flag license plates” (June 22).
From the op-ed:
“A day after the racially motivated massacre in South Carolina sickened the country and reopened the debate about whether that state should take down the Confederate flag flying in its capital, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the state of Texas to deny a request from car owners to use specialty license plates featuring the Confederate flag. The court majority held that messages appearing on license plates are government speech more than private speech and that the government has the right to espouse or oppose certain positions.
“Nine states currently permit the use of the Confederate flag on their license plates. Eight of those states, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Virginia and Tennessee, seceded from the Union and were part of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. The one state allowing the flag that was not part of the Confederacy is Maryland. While Maryland permitted slavery and had many residents in 1861 who were partial to the views of the southern states, the fact remains that it never seceded and always remained part of the Union, albeit by means that were controversial.
“It is long past the time for Maryland as well as the other states to ban the use of the Confederate flag on the license plates they issue. Most will agree that slavery was the greatest abomination ever perpetrated in the United States. Without getting into the endless debate about whether slavery was the primary cause of the Civil War, no one can argue that the secessionist states were, among other things, the defenders of this abominable institution. For a state to endorse a symbol of the defenders of slavery by putting the Confederate flag on representations of government speech is unconscionable.”