Virginia governor to banish Confederate flag from license plates

WASHINGTON, United States – Virginia's governor on Tuesday said he plans to ban images of the Confederate flag from state license plates, joining a growing backlash against the racially divisive emblem since the massacre of black worshippers at a South Carolina church.

The decision by Governor Terry McAuliffe comes a day after South Carolina's Governor Nikki Haley called for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of her state's legislature.

In remarks at an event in the state capital city of Richmond – which during the Civil War was also the capital of the secessionist Confederacy – McAuliffe praised Haley's decision.

"Although the battle flag is not flown here on Capitol Square, it has been the subject of considerable controversy, and it divides many of our people," he said. 

His comments touched upon not only the tragic shooting last week of the nine church members in Charleston, but also on a recent Supreme Court ruling that states can restrict license plate designs.

"Last week, the US Supreme Court ruled that states could indeed prevent the confederate emblem from being placed on their license plates – directly contradicting the prior court rulings in Virginia," McAuliffe said.

"Accordingly, I have directed the following actions to remove the Confederate emblem from state-issued license plates," he said, calling even its display on car fenders "unnecessarily divisive and hurtful to too many of our people." 

The case before the Supreme Court dealt with a request by a group in Texas to print a Confederate flag emblem on their license plates, and the high court's decision applies to all 50 US states. – Rappler.com