A federal appeals court ruled Monday that New Orleans can remove three prominently displayed Confederate monuments at the center of a heated debate, CNN reports.
Three historic preservation societies and the Sons of Confederate Veterans asked the court to block a plan to remove the controversial moments. Their legal action came after the City Council voted in 2015 to remove the monuments following the slaying of African-American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina by White supremacist Dylann Roof.
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed a district court judge’s decision.
From the Times-Picayune about the appeals court’s decision:
“In the ruling, the court wrote that ‘by failing to show a constitutionally or otherwise legally protected interest in the monuments,’ the groups opposing the monument removal ‘have also failed to show that any irreparable harm to the monuments — even assuming such evidence — would constitute harm.’”
In a statement, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu applauded the court’s decision: “This win today will allow us to begin to turn a page on our divisive past and chart the course for a more inclusive future.”
The groups that filed the lawsuit is considering whether to ask the appeals court for another hearing. It would involve all 14 judges instead of the three-judge panel that ruled Monday.
CNN said plans are already underway for the removal project. The city assured the court that it would not destroy the monuments but relocate them to a less prominent site.