A black attorney from Mississippi who petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to remove the Confederate emblem from the Mississippi flag had his case rejected Monday.
Carlos Moore petitioned the court arguing in court documents that the flag which is visible at state buildings, courts and schools, symbolically represents and supports white supremacy. The Mississippi flag incorporates the Confederate battle flag in its own upper left corner. The justices who declined the petition did not provide a reason for rejecting Moore's appeal but a federal appeals court that rejected the lawsuit in April cited a lack of standing.
Camila Domonoske of NPR explains, "The central question was whether the man had standing to sue — which depended on whether he had experienced an 'injury in fact.' The appeals court didn't deny that the flag might have a deep and personal effect on the man. They said he demonstrated that he feels stigmatized. But feeling stigmatized, they said, isn't the kind of injury you can sue the state over."
In his Supreme Court appeal, Moore argued that the previous court interpreted the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause too narrowly. Moore called upon the Supreme Court to declare Mississippi statutes on how the flag should be designed and displayed as unconstitutional.
Moore also wanted a statue deemed unconstitutional that called for schoolchildren in Mississippi to be taught "proper respect" for the flag and for the " 'official pledge of the State of Mississippi,' which says: I salute the flag of Mississippi and the sovereign state for which it stands with pride in her history and achievements and with confidence in her future under the guidance of Almighty God."
Moore's appeal gives his reasoning for the request which reads, "The message in Mississippi's flag has always been one of racial hostility and insult and it is pervasive and unavoidable by both children and adults. The state's continued expression of its message of racial disparagement sends a message to African-American citizens of Mississippi that they are second-class citizens."
The attorney also says that exposure to the flag for him is "painful, threatening, and offensive" and even goes so far as to say seeing the flag at courthouses creates a "hostile work and business environment."
The state has faced heated debates over its flag for years and many people are still divided over the issue. Camila Domonoske adds, "In 2001, the state voted to stick with the controversial design. But some official bodies — cities, counties, and universities, including the flagship University of Mississippi — refuse to fly the banner."
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