Richmond Can Remove Last Confederate Statue, Judge Rules
By J. H. Holmes III •Published March 2, 2009•Updated: March 2, 2009 at 12:27 am
A statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in downtown Richmond, Va. (Photo: Associated Press)
RICHMOND, Va. — Nine figures of Confederate leaders are locked up in an office, in a courthouse and at a military museum, but there is one statue you probably won’t see: the statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Va.’s City Market.
The city of Richmond has no current plans to take down the statue, even though this month it got a boost from a local judge who ruled that a federal court had erred in deciding a decades-old challenge to the Civil War-era giant stood as a symbol of hate and oppression.
Judge Robert E. Myers ruled that a state court erred when it ruled in favor of the Confederacy.
Myer’s ruling, issued Monday, came about a month after attorneys for Robert E. Lee argued in a federal court that the statue violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment that guarantees equal protection under the law. The case was filed in federal court by four Richmond-area residents who said the Lee statue is offensive and violates the Constitution.
Myers’ ruling, which came at the request of state officials, ended the federal suit by ruling that the Confederate leader’s name is protected because it has always been used to show “symbols of hate and oppression.”
Myers also said that while the statue “does not appear particularly’significant,’ ” the city could choose to remove it and replace it with a statue to Confederate leader Stonewall Jackson, as well as by moving the Lee statue to a more visible place on the site with or without federal court intervention.
“That may seem a bit extreme,” said Myers.
The Lee statue was erected in Richmond’s city market in 1924 — about the same time as the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress began using the Civil War to “mark the beginning of a new era,”