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GOVERNOR WARNER ANNOUNCES DECISION AGAINST APPEAL OF SCV LICENSE PLATE RULING

COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
Office of the Governor
Mark R. Warner
Governor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 2, 2002

Contact: Ellen Qualls
Phone: (804) 786-2211, x2379
Cell Phone: (804) 393-9429

RICHMOND - Governor Mark R. Warner today issued the following statement on the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Sons of Confederate Veterans, et al. v. Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles, et al.:

"After consultation with the Attorney General and members of the General Assembly, I have decided against an appeal of the Fourth Circuit's decision in Sons of Confederate Veterans, et al. v. Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles, et al. I have been advised that it is extremely unlikely that an appeal would be successful. In my view, the resources of the Commonwealth would be better spent
addressing important needs such as education and the social safety net, rather than on litigation which has little chance of success.

The confederate flag symbol in the logo of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, while a symbol of historical heritage to some, is offensive to many Virginians. I supported the compromise legislation passed by the General Assembly that allowed the SCV plate but prohibited the use of the logo. Two federal courts have now ruled that legislation unconstitutional. In addition, courts in both Maryland and North Carolina have ruled that the Sons of Confederate Veterans are entitled to license plates bearing their logo. While I had hoped the legislation would be upheld, I believe the Court's opinion must be respected as the law of the land.

I further believe, however, that the General Assembly should take a closer look at the process for granting license plates to interest groups, and I supported legislation sponsored by Senator John Watkins during the last legislative session to improve that process."

Senator Henry L. Marsh, III and Delegate Jerrauld C. Jones expressed their support of the Governor's decision: "We strongly disagree with the Court's opinion. The logo of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is patently offensive to the vast majority of Virginians. However, we understand that an appeal is unlikely to succeed and could result in an opinion even worse for those who find the logo offensive. Therefore, we support the Governor's decision not to pursue an appeal."