The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles won’t issue or renew any more license plates with the Confederate flag on them, according to a statement on Monday.
A policy that took effect Jan. 1, the DMV said that “The license plates bearing the Confederate battle flag have the potential to offend those who view them. We have therefore concluded that display of the Confederate battle flag is inappropriate for display on specialty license plates, which remain property of the state.”
The NCDMV also acknowledged it had received complaints about the Confederate battle flag appearing on a specialty license plate after the death of George Floyd in May.
Therefore, the custom N.C. plates given to ancestors of Confederate Veterans will be phased out. On Monday, the DMV said it will “continue to recognize the North Carolina Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans (“SCV”) as a civic organization entitled to the issuance of a specialty plate. “However, SCV’s classification as a civic organization does not entitle it to dictate the contents of the government speech on that specialty plate.”
North Carolina is one of the latest states to stop production of confederate plates. The Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that states could disallow the practice of issuing the specialty plates. The neighboring states of South Carolina and Tennessee still let drivers renew plates representing the confederacy.
NC Sons of Confederate Veterans spokesman Frank Powell said the group believes this change by the NCDMV is illegal. He said the SCV’s legal team is reviewing options.
The North Carolina Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans v. Faulkner, a 1998 court case in which the Confederate group sued the state for recognition as a civic organization. The move qualified for the issuance of specialty plates. SCV won the case which led to the introduction of the Confederate battle flag plate.
The NCDMV said it remains in accordance with the ruling, which it said “does not extend to the actual contents of the specialty plate.” Both sides will now try to come to an agreement on a new plate design.