The Supreme Court officially ruled on June 18 that the state of Texas did not violate the First Amendment with their original decision to ban any specialty license plates from displaying the Confederate flag.
Justice Clarence Thomas was the swing vote in the 5-to-4 decision. In the end, Justice Stephen G. Breyer announced the decision, saying the court “cannot force Texas to include a Confederate battle flag on its specialty license plates.”
“Just as Texas cannot force a private citizen to convey on his or her license plate a message with which he or she does not agree, so the Sons of Confederate Veterans cannot force Texas to convey on its license plate a message with which the state does not agree,” Breyer said, according to the Washington Post.
A Texas board originally denied the addition of the Confederate flag, saying “a significant portion of the public associate the Confederate flag with organizations advocating expressions of hate directed toward people or groups.”
Texas currently allows its residents to pick from hundreds of specialty license plates. Sports teams, colleges and service organizations are featured on these plates, which accumulated $17.6 million from sales in 2014, according to PBS.
The Confederate flag has been a controversial symbol that can evoke both pride or anger due to its complicated and varied use throughout history. The flag is currently featured on license plates in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.