A mere 24 hours after University of Texas President Greg Fenves’s announcement that the statue of Jefferson Davis would be relocated from the campus’s Main Mall to a history center “on the outskirts of campus,” a legal challenge has put the kibosh on the move — at least for the time being.
The school agreed to wait until a judge reviews yesterday’s temporary restraining order filed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
“We are confident we will move ahead with these plans,” [university spokesman Gary] Susswein said.
In court filings, the Sons of Confederate Veterans argue that the [Charleston] South Carolina shooting set off “orchestrated national hysteria and pressure” to remove Confederate symbols. The group claims that leaders of the 50,000-student campus have no unilateral authority to relocate the statue.
In June, the Supreme Court rejected a free-speech challenge by the group after a state board denied it a Texas license plate bearing the Confederate flag. The court said in a 5-4 ruling that Texas can limit the content of licenses plates because they are state property and not the equivalent of bumper stickers.
“That and Charleston pretty much started this free-for-all against the Confederate flag,” said Kirk D. Lyons, a North Carolina-based attorney for the group. “It wouldn’t matter if I knew with 99 percent certainty that we’d be blown out of the water in court. It’s the right thing to do to stand up to this nonsense.”
A date for the court hearing has not yet been set.
In March, UT’s student government passed a resolution to have Davis’s statue moved off campus completely.