Virginia Court to Hear Challenges to Removal of Lee Statue


RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Last June, when Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced a plan to take down a 131-year-old statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, the move was met with widespread praise and relief from racial justice activists who had long seen it as a symbol of white supremacy.

A year later, the enormous bronze equestrian statue still towers over a traffic circle on historic Monument Avenue in downtown Richmond, kept in place by two lawsuits filed by people who believe it should stay right where it is.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Virginia will hear arguments in the legal challenges.

Among the central issues to be decided by the court: Is the Commonwealth of Virginia bound by a decision made by state officials more than 130 years ago? Or can the state undo that decision because the public’s attitude toward Confederate symbols has changed drastically since then?

Attorneys for the plaintiffs will argue that the governor does not have the authority to remove the statue, while Attorney General Mark Herring’s office will ask the court to uphold a lower court’s rulings in favor of the governor.

Northam’s decision to take down the statue was announced just 10 days after George Floyd’s death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, during a time when there were nightly protests over police brutality and racism in cities around the country, including Richmond.

Separate lawsuits were filed by a group of residents who own property near the statue and a descendant of signatories to a 1890 deed that transferred the statue, pedestal and land they sit on to the state.

In the latter lawsuit, William Gregory argues that the state agreed to “faithfully guard” and “affectionately protect” the statue. In the other lawsuit, five property owners, including lead plaintiff Helen Marie Taylor, say that an 1889 joint resolution of the Virginia General Assembly accepting the statue and agreeing to maintain it as a monument to Lee is binding on the governor. They say Northam’s order to remove the statue exceeded the governor’s authority under the Virginia Constitution.

During a trial in October, the state argued that it cannot be forced to maintain a statue that no longer reflects its values.

Richmond Circuit Court Judge W. Reilly Marchant agreed, finding that enforcing the 19th-century deed would violate “current public policy.”

The judge also cited two budget bills approved by the General Assembly last year that repealed the 1889 act authorizing the then-governor to accept the gift of the monument and directed the Department of General Services to remove the 13-ton sculpture.

The plaintiffs argue that the budget bills were unconstitutional.

“What the Residents are asserting is that the state cannot arbitrarily take away their property rights, or remove a historic landmark, in violation of the Constitution of Virginia. If the Governor finds this assertion staggering, it can only be because he has an unlimited vision of governmental power. The state must comply with its contractual obligations, just like private citizens,” attorney Patrick McSweeney argues in a legal brief filed with the Supreme Court.

The city of Richmond, which was the capital of the Confederacy for most of the Civil War, has removed more than a dozen other pieces of Confederate statuary on city land since Floyd’s death, which prompted the removal of Confederate monuments in cities around the country.

Herring argues that leaving the massive monument to Lee in place will continue to cause pain to many people who see it as a symbol of Black oppression.

“This monument to Virginia’s racist history has held a place of honor in Richmond for too long. The Lee statue does not represent the ideals Virginians live by today and the inclusive community that we strive to be and it is time to bring it down,” Herring said in a statement.

Gregory’s attorney, Joseph Blackburn, argues that removal of the statue would cause irreparable harm to Gregory.

“For 130 years, his family has taken pride in the Lee Monument and his family role in the placement of the Monument on land originally belonging to his family and given to the Commonwealth in consideration for the Commonwealth’s guarantee that it would perpetually care for and protect the Monument,” Blackburn wrote in a legal brief.

The statue — one of the most recognized Confederate memorials in the country — became the epicenter of the protest movement in Virginia after Floyd’s death and is now covered with graffiti.

It is unclear how long the Supreme Court will take to issue its decision. The court generally averages about six to nine weeks to issue rulings after oral arguments, but there are wide variations among cases.

No comments

Thank you for reaching out to us. We are happy to receive your opinion and request. If you are need advert or sponsored post, We’re excited you’re considering advertising or sponsoring a post on our blog. Your support is what keeps us going. With the current trend, it’s very obvious content marketing is the way to go. Banner advertising and trying to get customers through Google Adwords may get you customers but it has been proven beyond doubt that Content Marketing has more lasting benefits.
We offer majorly two types of advertising:
1. Sponsored Posts: If you are really interested in publishing a sponsored post or a press release, video content, advertorial or any other kind of sponsored post, then you are at the right place.
Generally, a sponsored post can be any of the following:
Press release
Video content
This kind of post is usually written to promote you or your business. However, we do prefer posts that naturally flow with the site’s general content. This means we can also promote artists, songs, cosmetic products and things that you love of all products or services.
Every sponsored article will remain live on the site as long as this website exists. The duration is indefinite! Again, we will share your post on our social media channels and our email subscribers too will get to read your article. You’re exposing your article to our: Twitter followers, Facebook fans and other social networks.

We will also try as much as possible to optimize your post for search engines as well.

Submission of Materials : Sponsored post should be well written in English language and all materials must be delivered via electronic medium. All sponsored posts must be delivered via electronic version, either on disk or e-mail on Microsoft Word unless otherwise noted.
The price largely depends on if you’re writing the content or we’re to do that. But if your are writing the content, it is $60 per article.

2. Banner Advertising: We also offer banner advertising in various sizes and of course, our prices are flexible. you may choose to for the weekly rate or simply buy your desired number of impressions.

Technical Details And Pricing
Banner Size 300 X 250 pixels : Appears on the home page and below all pages on the site.
Banner Size 728 X 90 pixels: Appears on the top right Corner of the homepage and all pages on the site.
Large rectangle Banner Size (336x280) : Appears on the home page and below all pages on the site.
Small square (200x200) : Appears on the right side of the home page and all pages on the site.
Half page (300x600) : Appears on the right side of the home page and all pages on the site.
Portrait (300x1050) : Appears on the right side of the home page and all pages on the site.
Billboard (970x250) : Appears on the home page.

Submission of Materials : Banner ads can be in jpeg, jpg and gif format. All materials must be deliverd via electronic medium. All ads must be delivered via electronic version, either on disk or e-mail in the ordered pixel dimensions unless otherwise noted.
For advertising offers, send an email with your name,company, website, country and advert or sponsored post you want to appear on our website to omodjk(at)gmail(dot)com

Normally, we should respond within 48 hours.

Sponsored Partner's Advertisement