COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a state law preventing anyone from moving a Confederate monument or changing the historical name of a street or building without the Legislature’s permission is legal.
But in the same ruling, the justices struck down a requirement that two-thirds of the General Assembly must approve a move or name change.
The ruling keeps intact South Carolina’s Heritage Act, which has stopped colleges and local governments from removing statues honoring Civil War soldiers or generals even as other areas of the South took them down after protests following the killing of African American George Floyd last year by white police officers.
The law was passed in 2000 as part of a compromise to remove the Confederate flag from atop the South Carolina Statehouse dome. The rebel banner was moved to a pole on the capitol lawn, where it flew until 2015 when lawmakers removed it after nine Black church members were killed in a racist massacre at a Charleston church.
One of the people who sued lawmakers over the Heritage Act is the widow of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, the pastor at Emanuel AME church in Charleston who died in the massacre.
Days after the Confederate flag was removed in 2015, South Carolina legislative leaders vowed they would not approve the removal of any other statues or renaming of buildings under the Heritage Act and have kept their word.
In their ruling, the justices said the 2000 compromise that removed the Confederate flag that flew just below the U.S. and state flags “accomplished one of the greatest achievements in the political history of South Carolina — the removal of the Confederate flag from the dome of our Capitol, the seat of government for all our people.”
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