Senate Leader Won't Push Ban On Confederate Flag License Plates
The leader of the North Carolina Senate will not push legislation to remove the Confederate flag as an option on some state license plates, as Governor Pat McCrory has called for.
The DMV has issued over 2,000 specialty plates for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which include the Confederate flag. Governor Pat McCrory says if he had the authority, he’d ban any more.
“If I did, I’d do it right today,” the governor said.
North Carolina law lists what plates the DMV can offer and to whom.
“The legislature approves whatever specialty plates are offered by the DMV,” says department spokesman Steve Abbott.
That means removing a specialty plate from the rolls requires a vote by legislators to change the law, Abbot says.
Senate leader Phil Berger has not stated a position on the Confederate flag plates, but says he won’t take legislative action. He argues the governor can ban the plate without it, because the law does not explicitly list the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Berger declined an interview, but a spokeswoman writes, “The executive branch has the discretion to deal with the issue.”
But that’s been tried before.
In 1997, the Sons of Confederate Veterans applied for its specialty plate as a “civic club”—a category for tax-exempt membership groups, which North Carolina law allows to receive specialty plates. The plates carry the group’s name, slogan, and insignia—in this case, the Confederate flag.
The administration tried to block it. The group sued and won. A judge ruled the group counts as a “civic club,” so the DMV had to issue the plates, because the state law protects the group. Changing that law would require action from lawmakers.
House speaker Tim Moore released a statement Thursday morning about his position. It reads, in part:
"The House is committed to a deliberative process to determine whether legislative action is warranted under the circumstances. We will carefully examine all of the issues and will announce our intentions after the deliberative process has been completed."
Updated 6/25/15 9:36 a.m. with Speaker Tim Moore's comment.