This week the Supreme Court overturned an Appeals Court decision concerning the display of the Confederate flag on license plates, a decision that sets a massive precedent for the nation.
The case pitted the state of Texas against the Sons of Confederate Veterans who had sued the state over its refusal to allow the Confederate flag to appear on personalized license plates.
The lower court opined in its majority decision that state-issued plates do not constitute state-speech and the First Amendment protects free speech rights even on a license plate.
In the 5-4 decision in favor of Texas, the majority disagreed arguing that messaging on plates could be construed as state speech and therefore endorsement of specific messages.
Among the majority votes was conservative Justice Clarence Thomas who joined the four liberal members of the court to overrule the Appeals Court. Dissenters speculated that Thomas’s race served as an influencing factor in his vote against the flag.
The decision likely has opened a judicial can of worms in that is raises more questions than answers concerning what a state can bar from plates and what it cannot. “Choose Life” plates, for instance, are legal in 29 states but have been prohibited in North Carolina without approval of a corresponding pro-choice option.