Ole Miss Has Right to Ban Confederate Flag Waving
The University of Mississippi has the legal right to ban spectators from waving Confederate flags at campus athletic events, the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled.
The recent decision by the New Orleans court comes three years after Richard Barrett, a lawyer for the White supremacist Nationalist Movement, sued over the issue, claiming the ban violated his First Amendment rights.
In 1999, U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers Jr. ruled that the ban is a reasonable limitation.
University officials had cited safety concerns for the ban, claiming the stick on the end of the flag could be considered dangerous.
The 5th Circuit Court said it found nothing wrong with “the university defendants’ game management policies, which prohibited spectators from carrying sticks and large flags or banners into the University’s football stadium. during athletic contests.”
Ole Miss officials adopted the stick-flag policy in fall 1997, weeks after former head football coach Tommy Tuberville asked fans not to wave Confederate flags at games. Tuberville said he didn’t want the flag associated with Ole Miss because of mixed perceptions of its meaning.
The Associated Student Body adopted a resolution supporting Tuberville’s request.
“The debate over the Confederate flag at The University of Mississippi was resolved years ago when the Faculty Senate, the Student Senate, the Alumni Association and the Athletics Department all disassociated the University from the symbol,” says Dr. Robert Khayat, chancellor of Ole Miss.
However, Barrett vowed to appeal. “It is ironic that burning a flag is called free speech, but waving it is not,” he says. “I’m sticking in this ring until I knock the flag haters out.”
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