WASHINGTON — South Carolina’s legislature has enough votes to remove the Confederate flag from its Capitol grounds, a survey of lawmakers by The Charleston Post and Courier shows.
It’s a strong indication that the state’s House and Senate will vote next week to remove the flag — ending a decades-long fight that was renewed after the racially motivated shootings of nine African-Americans in a Charleston church.
But the debate over the Confederate flag’s public display will continue: The Ku Klux Klan is holding a rally at South Carolina’s capitol on July 18 to protest the flag’s removal.
The Confederate flag’s appearance at statehouses, within state flags and in other government imagery has led to a flurry of action in several southern states. Here’s a look at where things stand in each:
Gov. Robert Bentley ordered that four Confederate flags be removed from a monument on the state’s capitol grounds last week — a move that came after a Democratic lawmaker filed a bill that would have done just that.
But 1,000 flag supporters rallied at the Statehouse on Saturday, flying hundreds of Confederate flags and claiming its removal is an affront to their southern heritage.
Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration late last week halted the use of specialty license plates created by the state for the Sons of Confederate Veterans that featured the Confederate flag.
State House Speaker Philip Gunn said last week that the state’s current flag — which features the Confederate stars and bars in its upper left corner — should be changed. But Mississippi voted in a 2001 referendum to keep the Confederate flag in place as part of its state flag. Lawmakers are unlikely to change it until a new legislative session begins in January.
The state legislature will begin debate over bills to remove the flag from capitol grounds in a special session that begins on July 6 — and in addition to the Post and Courier’s survey, there’s political momentum behind the flag’s removal: Gov. Nikki Haley and a cadre of other top GOP officials have also called for it to be taken down.
Fifteen years ago, South Carolina moved the Confederate flag from atop its statehouse to a monument in front of the building. As part of that move, the state put in place a requirement that two-thirds of its lawmakers approve before it’s moved again.
Gov. Bill Haslam has said the Confederate flag should be removed from Tennessee’s Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty license plates. But proposals to end the specialty plates, at least, won’t be discussed until the state legislature meets again early next year.
Haslam has also called for the state to remove a bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Ku Klux Klan founder and slave trader, from the Capitol.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe ordered an end to Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty license plates that, like Georgia’s and Tennessee’s, featured the Confederate emblem.