Federal appeals court sides with UT-Austin over Confederate statue removal

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A statue of Jefferson Davis removed August 25, 2019.

The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the University of Texas at Austin can legally remove Confederate statues from its campus, KXAN reported.  

The lawsuit challenging the removal of four statues had already been dismissed by a district court; the appellate court upheld that decision. The lower court ruled that plaintiffs David McMahon and Steven Littlefield, representatives of the Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, lacked standing to make First Amendment violations claims, and the appeals court agreed.

In a 2017 statement calling for the statues’ removal, UT-Austin President Greg Fenves said the monuments had “become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism” after groups representing those beliefs protested the removal of a confederate statue on the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, the TV station reported.

Fenves’ statement followed a study of removing the statues by a 2015 task force and conversations he had with students, faculty members and alumni.

McMahon and Littlefield claimed in their lawsuit that the UT Board of Regents exceeded its authority and was in breach of a previous agreement to build memorials to Confederate soldiers. The Sons of Confederate Veterans previously sued unsuccessfully over this issue in state and federal court, KXAN reported.

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