The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit filed against the University of Texas over the removal of Confederate statues from the institution’s campus in 2017. According to a report from The Hill, the federal court upheld the district court ruling, which stated that the Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans “lacked proper standing to sue the university over the removal.”
The same appeals court made a similar ruling on a lawsuit filed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans who attempted to force San Antonio to return a Confederate monument and two cannons to a park.
Organization members are arguing that their free speech rights have been infringed upon following the removal of the monuments and statues that are directly linked to the Confederacy.
“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,” said Judge Edith Clement Brown.
She added, “Plaintiffs have shown only a rooting interest in the outcome of this litigation, not a direct and personal stake in it.”
The university’s president, Gregory L. Fenves, ordered that the statues of Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston and John Reagan be removed in 2017 following the violent white supremacist demonstration that took place in Charlottesville.
That same year, in 2017, two Confederate statues were removed from Fourth Bluff Park and Health Sciences Park in Memphis. The historical moment that activists actively fought for was the result of months of protest work that applied direct pressure on city officials.
“This is thousands of people who came together to put names on petitions, to donate money and time … to get arrested, to get people out of jail … so here we are today as the year draws to a close seeing justice and righteousness happen,” Tami Sawyer, a leader of grassroots activism group #TakeEmDown901, said. “It means that can be possible for any of us on any of these issues as we continue to fight for equality and equity in Memphis.
The removal was approved after the park where the statues were held were sold by the city of Memphis for $1,000 each to a non-profit named Greenspace Inc., giving them the authority to remove the monuments.
“I commend [Memphis] Mayor [Jim] Strickland and the City Council for finding a way to legally remove statues from an era that is not representative of Memphis today and have remained an affront to most of the citizens of Memphis,” U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, a Democrat from Memphis, stated at the time.