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Attorney General of Virginia

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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

 

For media inquiries only, contact:  
Charlotte Gomer, Director of Communication
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

SUPREME COURT OF VIRGINIA AFFIRMS HERRING’S OPINION ON REMOVAL OF CONFEDERATE STATUES

~ Court agreed with Herring’s 2017 opinion that old law purporting to block removal of Confederate statues did not apply retroactively and did not apply to statues in cities before 1997 ~

RICHMOND —The Supreme Court of Virginia today released an important opinion agreeing with Attorney General Mark Herring that the old Virginia law that purported to bar removal of Confederate monuments was not retroactive and did not apply to statues built in independent cities before 1997. Herring made this now-affirmed argument on at least three occasions: in an official opinion, in litigation over Norfolk’s Confederate statue, and in an amicus brief in this case, City of Charlottesville et al. v. Payne et. al.

 

“I said nearly four years ago that the law purporting to block removal of Confederate statues did not apply retroactively and was not the blanket prohibition that its proponents had made it out to be, and today the Supreme Court of Virginia confirmed that we were right,” said Attorney General Mark Herring. “I have worked hard to help remove poisonous Confederate propaganda from our publicly-owned spaces, because I believe it glorifies a false history and sends a dangerous and divisive message about who and what we value. This work will continue, and I look forward to making our case for the removal of the state-owned Robert E. Lee statue before the Supreme Court of Virginia this summer.”

 

Attorney General Herring said in a 2017 opinion and in subsequent legal filings, including in this case, that the law purporting to bar removal of Confederate monuments: “does not apply to any monument or memorial erected on any property within an independent city prior to 1997.”

 

In agreeing with Attorney General Herring’s analysis, today the Supreme Court of Virginia said: “there is no language in the statute that demonstrates an intent on the part of the General Assembly for the prohibitions in Code § 15.2-1812 to apply to monuments or memorials erected by cities prior to 1997… The plain language of the statute does not manifest an intent that the prohibitions in the statute are to apply to memorials erected by cities prior to the enactment of Code § 15.2-1812.”

 

Attorney General Herring’s amicus in this case is part of his ongoing work to help remove Confederate iconography. He has also won every case attempting to block removal of the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond and will argue for its removal before the Supreme Court of Virginia this summer. He has also successfully fought in court to get the Confederate flag removed from Virginia license plates and he has issued multiple advisory opinions to help facilitate the removal of Confederate iconography including:

 

  • Helping Danville remove the Confederate flag from a city owned historic home
  • Laying out parameters by which localities may be able to alter or remove Confederate statues
  • Paving the way for renaming the Jefferson Davis Highway in parts of Northern Virginia

 

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