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Virginia Recalling Specialty License Plates With Confederate Flag

A sample Confederate battle flag license plate in Virginia.

Virginia's Department of Motor Vehicles will begin recalling specialty license plates depicting the Confederate battle flag following a federal judge's decision last week to dissolve an injunction that barred officials from blocking such plates.

There are approximately 1,700 Confederate license plates issued throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. But as the Virginian-Pilot reports, how quickly the tags will disappear from Virginia roadways is anyone's guess.

The newspaper says:

"The affected motorists will be sent new Sons of Confederate Veterans tags along with a letter telling them they have 30 days before the old plate is invalid, said Department of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman Brandy Brubaker.

"However, the replacement tag doesn't exist yet. The DMV will work with the heritage group to come up with a new flagless plate design, Brubaker said. Then the plate has to be manufactured and sent to holders of the specialty plate."

The Associated Press has more on the judge's ruling that led to the DMV's move:

"U.S. District Judge Jackson L. Kiser had issued an injunction in 2001 that allowed the image of the Confederate flag on specialty plates honoring the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. Kiser said in a Thursday order that his decision is 'no longer good law' because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Texas case that said specialty license plates represent the state's speech, and not the driver's speech."

As my colleague Scott Neuman reported last month, the judge's order was expected.

"Close on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that granted Texas the right to refuse to issue Confederate-themed license plates, a federal judge has effectively vacated a state injunction in Virginia that kept officials there from similarly blocking such plates."

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said in a statement Thursday, "Because the injunction has been dissolved, DMV will begin the administrative process of recalling and replacing existing license plates with ones that comply with Virginia Law."

Herring had filed paperwork in June that would allow Virginia to remove the flag from Sons of Confederate Veterans plates following the Supreme Court's ruling in Walker v. Texas.

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