Home Virginia Politics Breaking: Gov. Terry McAuliffe Says Virginia Will Remove Confederate Flags from License...

Breaking: Gov. Terry McAuliffe Says Virginia Will Remove Confederate Flags from License Plates


From Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, speaking earlier this morning “in response to the tragic shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision declaring that states can restrict license plate designs.”

Before I address some very positive developments regarding my administration’s continuing efforts to restore the voting rights of Virginians who were former offenders, I wanted to say a couple of words about last week’s horrific tragedy at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

First and foremost, I want to express, on behalf of all Virginians, our heartfelt sympathies to all members of the Emanuel Church Community, as well as the larger community in the City of Charleston.

In the days since last week’s tragic shooting, the people of Charleston have displayed unparalleled unity and courage, and they have made all Americans proud.

I also want to commend my colleague, Governor Nikki Haley, for her leadership yesterday in calling for the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from the state Capitol grounds in Columbia.

As Governor Haley said yesterday, her state can ill afford to let this symbol continue to divide the people of South Carolina.

I believe the same is true here in Virginia.

Although the battle flag is not flown here on Capitol Square, it has been the subject of considerable controversy, and it divides many of our people.

Even its display on state issued license tags is, in my view, unnecessarily divisive and hurtful to too many of our people.

As you all know, I have spent the past 17 months working to build a new Virginia economy that is more open and welcoming to everyone. Removing this symbol from our state-issued license plates will be another step toward realizing that goal.

While it is true that legislation passed by the General Assembly in 1999 requires specialty license plates for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the legislation specifically attempted to prevent the Confederate emblem from being part of the design. Federal court decisions, however, required DMV to allow the emblem in the design.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could indeed prevent the confederate emblem from being placed on their license plates, directly contradicting the prior court rulings in Virginia. Accordingly, I have directed the following actions to remove the Confederate emblem from state-issued license plates.

First, this morning I asked the Attorney General’s office to take steps to reverse the prior Court ruling that requires the Confederate flag be placed on state license plates.

Second, I have directed Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne to develop a plan for replacing the currently-issued plates as quickly as possible.

These steps will, I hope, make clear that this Commonwealth does not support the display of the Confederate battle flag or the message it sends to the rest of the world.

  • Very glad that the Governor of Virginia is removing Confederate flags from Virginia license plates. This divisive emblem doesn’t belong on state-issued plates.


    RICHMOND (June 23, 2015)–Attorney General Mark R. Herring issued the following statement after Governor Terry McAuliffe announced steps to remove the Confederate battle flag from Virginia license plates:

    “It’s past time to move beyond this divisive symbol, which for so many represents oppression and injustice. I applaud Governor McAuliffe for his leadership and will work with him and his team to take the steps necessary to remove the Confederate battle flag from Virginia’s license plates.”

  • I agree with the Governor of Virginia that the presence of the confederate battle flag on Virginia license plates is “unnecessarily divisive and hurtful to too many of our people.” I am grateful that he has begun the process to remove the flag from Virginia plates.

  • Bumble Bee

    We should all stand with and support out Governor and our US Senator in this matter.  No matter how you spin it that symbol is very offensive to a large number of our fellow citizens and should be reserved for display in a museum.  

  • Hahahaha

    those rabble-rousing liberal comeheres. always comin’ round stirrin’ up trouble! gettin all our folks agitated over nothing! why can’t all those radicals who go on and on about human rights just leave well enough alone?! damn liberal commies. pinkos and racebaiters, the whole lot of em! what they don’t understand is that we got a certain way we do things down here. we got a way about things, our way, a southern way. why they gotta go messin with somethin that aint their bidness?!

  • I support Governor McAuliffe’s call to remove the Confederate battle flag from state-issued Virginia license plates. The use of the flag by public bodies is integrally connected to celebration of the cause of the Confederacy, which is inimical to American values. With the Supreme Court’s decision last week in Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc., prior court rulings in Virginia that have protected the use of the emblem on license plates are now obsolete. This is the right call for the Commonwealth and I commend the Governor for his leadership on this issue.

  • Henrico  –  Senator A. Donald McEachin issued this statement in response to Governor McAullife’s announced efforts today to remove the Confederate battle flag from Sons of Confederate Veterans’  (SCV) license plates. Senator McEachin said, “Everyone is entitled to honor and appreciate his or her history and heritage. We are a stronger country because of all the different histories we bring to our culture. However, when the symbol of a heritage has been co-oped by hate, then it should not be part of public property or other items issued by our Commonwealth, any state government or the federal government.

    “The Confederate battle flag has become the symbol for numerous hate groups, flown proudly by those who traffic in racism and bigotry.  Whether or not that was the original “meaning” or “intent” of the flag, at this point, it has no place in the public sphere.

    “I commend the governor for his distinction between allowing the SCV plates, but insisting that the divisive and noxious symbol come off,” Senator McEachin concluded.

  • I fully support Governor McAuliffe’s call to remove the Confederate battle flag and emblem from Virginia license plates, and do not support the flying of that flag on public property anywhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia or in the United States of America. This flag has come to symbolize hate and values which Americans find abhorrent. It should be confined to museums as a relic of a bygone era and not prominently displayed in the public realm. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that the display of such an emblem on license plates is not constitutionally protected speech and there no longer is any reason why it cannot and should not be removed as soon as possible.

  • I commend the Governor for his decision today to order the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from specialty Virginia license plates. The flag’s contemporary use has always been controversial; particularly in light of the fact that many Southern states opted to display the flag in some form or another in direct protest of racial integration in the 1950s.

    Finally, with the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc. that license plate designs constitute government speech, the Governor’s action is on firm legal ground. Again, I commend the Governor for taking this action and leading on this issue.

  • CADeminVA

    To see the Stars-and-Bars removed from I-95 it is a huge mf’er around exit 134 NB in Stafford County.

  • campaignman

    Unfortunately, based upon the current fact pattern, there is no legal governmental action that can force the removal of the Confederate flag flying over I95.

    Nonetheless, we might want to try appealing to the owner of that property in light of what has happened in South Carolina.