Property Rights, First Amendment at Issue Over Confederate War Memorial
"Not surprisingly, the Sons of Confederate Veterans believe the controversy swirling around the memorial to Confederate war dead that they’re building in the east Texas city of Orange is overblown, if not entirely unfounded," reports Peter Holley.
Construction of the $50,000 monument, located near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, began in 2013, "despite strenuous objections from some locals," according to Holley. The controversy recently increased "after the Sons of Confederate Veterans announced that they have ordered eight custom-made poles for Confederate battle flags that will, Davis said, increase the visibility of the monument alongside Interstate 10, not far from the street named after King, the slain civil rights leader."
The local newspaper conducted a survey, finding that 77 percent of Orange residents support the memorial. "Many of them aided in its construction by purchasing bricks at $50, $300 and $500 and benches at $800, according to the group’s Web site."
Orange City Attorney John Cash "Jack" Smith does not support the memorial, but he also explains the constitutional issue at stake: "I don’t like it," he told the Beaumont Enterprise. "I think it’s a bad idea. But they own the property, and the First Amendment warrants them that right."