Appeals court dismisses lawsuit against University of Texas over removal of Confederate statues

Appeals court dismisses lawsuit against University of Texas over removal of Confederate statues
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A federal court on Friday dismissed a lawsuit against the University of Texas over its 2017 decision to remove Confederate statues from its grounds.

The ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court ruling saying the Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans lacked proper standing to sue the university over the removal. The same appeals court had issued a similar ruling in a lawsuit by the Sons of Confederate Veterans that tried to force San Antonio to return a Confederate monument and two cannons to a city park.

Members of the organization had argued their free speech rights were violated after the monuments and statues were removed given their unique ties to the Confederacy.

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“Though these ties might give Plaintiffs strong reasons to care about these monuments, Plaintiffs fail to explain how these ties (provide) a First Amendment-based stake in the outcome of this litigation,” Judge Edith Clement Brown, an appointee of George W. Bush, wrote for the panel. 

“Plaintiffs have shown only a rooting interest in the outcome of this litigation, not a direct and personal stake in it,” she added.

University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves ordered the statues of Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston and John Reagan removed from the South Mall in 2017 after white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., killed one counter-protester. 

The statues of Lee, Johnston and Reagan were placed in storage.