Maryland officials want Confederate flag off license plates

By KASEY JONES
Associated Press

BALTIMORE (AP) — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a day after he announced he is battling an aggressive cancer, said through a spokeswoman Tuesday that he is against the use of the Confederate flag on license plates.

Last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding Texas' right to refuse to issue a license plate bearing the Confederate battle flag and a massacre at a black church in South Carolina have brought the issue to the forefront.

Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration spokesman Buel Young said Tuesday that the agency and its attorneys were reviewing the Supreme Court ruling to determine how it will affect issuing organizations' license plates.

Members of the Maryland Sons of Confederate Veterans can get a specialty license plate bearing an image of the battle flag for $25.

Late Tuesday, nearly three dozen state lawmakers sent a letter to the Maryland Department of Transportation and the MVA urging the agencies to remove the Confederate flag as an option on specialty plates.

The group of senators and delegates asked Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn and Motor Vehicle Administrator Milton Chaffee to reinstate Maryland's previous policy against the flag.

The lawmakers said that, in 1996, the MVA recalled license plates that had been issued with Confederate flags on them. A federal appeals court barred that action, citing free speech concerns.

The lawmakers wrote: "We hope that you will undertake a prompt review of the situation and conclude that the state of Maryland has both the legal authority and a clear reason to disassociate ourselves from a symbol that may reasonably be regarded as a 'badge and incident' of slavery within the meaning of the Thirteenth Amendment."

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