The Confederate flag will no longer fly on Sons of Confederate Veterans license plates issued by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, Gov. Terry McAuliffe ordered today.
He said he would bar the state from issuing such specialty plates for the Virginia chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a Southern heritage group that has 3,000 members. McAuliffe said he will also arrange to withdraw the more than 1,594 plates that have already been issued and are in public use.
“It looks very political,” says Tim Hamilton, a Sons of Confederate Veterans member who is camp commander for Amherst and Nelson counties. “I havn’t heard the governor’s order yet but it wouldn’t surprise me with all the hoopla going on down in South Carolina,” he says.
McAuliffe’s order comes one day after South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley asked the the state legislature to remove the Confederate flag from its capitol grounds. That flag’s removal requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature.
The actions come after a 21-year-old white man allegedly shot and killed nine members of a historically African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina. The man arrested, Dylann Storm Roof, was a self-styled white supremacist. Coincidentally, about the same time, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state of Texas has a right to refuse to issue license plates showing the Confederate flag.
McAuliffe says he will order Attorney General Mark Herring to find the legal means to stop issuing Confederate flag plates. There will also be an attempt to withdraw existing plates that are in circulation.
Brandy Brubaker, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, says her department is “waiting for directions” about how to proceed.
“The DMV is making money off the plates,” Hamilton says. “I don’t know how they are going to do this, he says, adding that his license plates do not show the Confederate flag.
Virginia has been issuing Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty plates since 1999 and added the Confederate flag after the Sons of Confederate Veterans sued and won. The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond said banning the flag violated free speech. Now the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled otherwise.
In a related development, Wal-Mart announced that it would stop selling goods showing the Confederate flag.