Mississippi Attorneys Seek to Stop Revival of Flag Lawsuit

(CN) – Attorneys for Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant asked the Fifth Circuit to deny a request for a new trial in a lawsuit that sought to erase the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag.

In September, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Mississippi state flag, which prominently displays the Confederate battle emblem.

Carlos Moore, a Grenada-based attorney who filed the suit against Bryant in February, argued that the flag violates the 13th and 14th Amendments and is “tantamount to hateful government speech” with a “discriminatory intent and disparate impact” on black people.

Moore, who is black, claimed the alleged “hate speech” damaged him personally by causing him to suffer physical and emotional injuries and by inciting private citizens to commit acts of racial violence.

In his September opinion, Reeves said that the Confederate emblem is offensive to “Mississippians of all creeds and colors.”

“The Confederate battle emblem has no place in shaping a New Mississippi, and is better left retired to history,” Reeves said.

However, the judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi dismissed the suit, and said the judiciary could only require change to the Confederate emblem if it was found to have caused a “cognizable legal injury.”

“In this case no such injury has been articulated,” Reeves said. “Whether that could be shown in a future case, or whether ‘the people themselves’ will act to change the state flag, remains to be seen.”

On Nov. 1, Moore asked the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans to order Reeves to hold a trial on other arguments made in the lawsuit.

State attorneys filed arguments Monday with the appeals court, asking it to deny Moore’s request for another trial.

Mississippi Assistant Attorneys General Douglas Miracle and Harold Pizzetta wrote that the district court was “correct that Moore fails to identify that part of the Constitution that guarantees a legal right to be free of anxiety,” according to the Associated Press.

Mississippians voted in 2001 to keep the flag the way it is, but all eight of the state’s public universities have stopped flying the state flag, many since the fatal shootings of nine black people at a church in Charleston, S.C.