The South Carolina The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a state law prohibits the movement or replacement of a federal monument. Historical The name of a street or building is legal without the permission of the legislature.
But in the same judgment, the judges rejected the requirement that two-thirds of the General Assembly approve a move or name change.
The unanimous resolution upheld South Carolina’s traditional law, which barred colleges and local governments from removing statues of civil war veterans or separatists, and protests erupted as other parts of the South killed African Americans. George Floyd By white police officers in Minnesota last year.
The law was passed in 2000 as part of a compromise to remove the federal flag from the top of the South Carolina State House dome. The rebel banner was moved to a pole in the Capitol meadow, where it flew until lawmakers removed it after nine black church members were killed in a racist massacre at Charleston Church.
One of those who prosecuted lawmakers over traditional law was the state senator, pastor of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, who died in the attack. Widow of Clementa Pingney.
The law specifically protects monuments from the 10 wars – from the Revolutionary War to the Persian Gulf War. It preserves monuments reminiscent of African Americans and Native Americans and an attractive phrase for “any historical figure or historical event.”
Jennifer Pinkney has pointed out at her late husband’s memorial this year that the law cannot be changed without asking permission.
His lawyer, State General Gerald Malloy, called the verdict a victory because monuments to racists are no longer protected by a two-thirds majority.
“We can now hear the voice of the majority about which statues and names best reflect our values and heritage. The path to justice is long overdue. Today’s decision makes us travel further,” said the Democrat from Hartsville.
A few days after the federal flag was removed in 2015, South Carolina lawmakers vowed not to approve the removal of any other statues or the renaming of buildings under the Heritage Act.
South Carolina Senate President Harvey Beeler said in the summer of 2020 that “changing the name of the bricks and mortar pile is at the bottom of my to-do list.”
He issued another statement on Wednesday: “Protections on all monuments and statues in our state are constitutional and will remain in place.”
House Speaker Jay Lucas said in 2015 that he would not consider any other changes when he was chairman of the chamber. He reiterated that promise after coming to power on Wednesday.
In 2021 lawmakers refused to take the first step toward the removal of monuments such as Orangeburg or asked to change names such as Clemson University, the now-defunct U.S. Sen. Violent racist mobs to prevent blacks from voting.
What will happen if a local government ignores the law, without a decision being made after Wednesday’s verdict. There is no specific penalty for violating this law. Some Republicans suggested taking local government or school state funding, but the idea did not gain traction in the legislature.
Charleston removed the statue of former U.S. Vice President John Calhoun from Downtown Park in 2020, arguing that the statue belonged and was on private land, so it did not fall under the law. Calhoun was a staunch defender of slavery, and blacks with a racist view belonged to other peoples.
Much of the 22-page ruling on Wednesday traced the history of the 2000 compromise, praising it for easing ethnic tensions in the state. It was signed by all the judges, including Chief Justice Dan Beatty, the second African American to lead the High Court.
“As individual citizens – even as judges – we can look back on these events and wish the negotiations had been handled differently. However, the truth is that traditional law has brought the federal flag down from the top of South Carolina sovereignty.” John Cannon wrote in the judgment of some.
The judges also rejected the argument that South Carolina had violated traditional law known as “home rule” and illegally allowed the General Assembly to engage in local affairs.
“They argue that local governments are in a better position to act on this issue because ‘they can be more responsive’ to the thoughts of the community. This may be true, but there is no home rule about who has the best wisdom,” some wrote.
Although the judges found that two-thirds of the removal of a monument was unnecessary, they upheld a clause in the law stating that if any part of it was unconstitutional, the rest would stand.
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