June 29, 2015
Honorable Richard D. Holcomb
Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
RE: Ban on issuance of SCV specialty plate
Dear Commissioner Holcomb:
In 1999, the Virginia General Assembly approved a specialty license plate for the Sons of Confederate Veterans but unconstitutionally censored the use of the Confederate Battle Flag. The Confederate Battle flag has been part of our organization's logo since the SCV was founded over 119 years ago. Although the Assembly had permitted dozens of organizations to use their logos on specialty plates, the SCV is the only group the Assembly has ever forbidden to display its logo on a license plate. The Sons of Confederate Veterans filed a civil rights lawsuit challenging the Commonwealth's actions as a denial of their right of free speech. In April 2002 a 3 judge panel of the 4th Circuit United States Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the State of Virginia had violated the 1st Amendment rights of the Virginia Sons of Confederate Veterans and ordered the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to begin issuing specialty tags bearing our Confederate Battle flag themed logo.
On June 23, 2015, Governor McAuliffe stated that he would "move quickly" to erase the Confederate flag from state license plates. I have already received calls from the VaDMV, undoubtedly in an attempt to discuss new logo options with me.
What the Governor and you seem to forget is that our Confederate Battle flag plates did not come through the offices, largesse and goodwill of the Governor, the General Assembly or the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, but by a Court order issued by the 4th Circuit United States Court of appeal. (Decision attached if the Governor and you have mislaid your copies).
I am aware of no order from the 4th Circuit vacating our right to receive our plates from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and on behalf of ALL the citizens of the Commonwealth I insist that you follow the rule of Law. If you desire to cease issuing SCV plates on the lie that they are "hurtful" and "divisive," then I demand that you follow proper legal procedure by filing a proper Motion to Vacate in a United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, so that we may have a venue outside of the current orchestrated witch hunt to properly respond.
Whatever the cost, the Virginia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans will oppose the Governor's attempt to stymie the rights of all Virginians by picking on groups of citizens he believes are vulnerable & unpopular. This tactic, very old, used to be called "McCarthyism."
L. Tracy Clary
Virginia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans
Cc: Governor Terry McAuliffe