South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson and House Speaker Jay Lucas have asked a judge to reconsider his ruling that allowed the town of Greenwood to remove a plaque on a 70-year-old war memorial which listed the town’s World War dead by “colored” and “white.”
The Index Journal reports the motions came May 25, roughly a week after Judge Frank Addy ruled the memorial is not covered by a state law which bans historical monument alterations without legislative approval because it is privately-owned. The monument is located in a public space owned by the city, but was erected by the local American Legion post. The post has since tried to replace it.
Greenwood Mayor Wellborn Adams said last week the town hoped to remove the plaques on Friday and position replacement ones that alphabetically list the dead of World War I and World War II. The old plaques will be housed in the Greenwood County Veterans Museum.
Addy ruled earlier this month that the 2000 Heritage Act did not apply to the Greenwood monument because it was privately owned. “If interpreted in this manner, the Act would clearly abridge a private organization’s First Amendment right to alter, modify, disavow or clarify their organization’s prior speech,” he wrote, before adding he was “…unfamiliar with any principle of law which allows the government to forever enshrine the private speech of a private individual.”
But state attorneys argued the law already covers private monuments in government-owned spaces. “There is no doubt that (the law) is unambiguous on its face and is applicable to all monuments on public property,” Lucas’ attorney Tracey Green wrote in last week’s motion. She argued more than 200 other monuments statewide could be impacted.
The Heritage Act passed as part of a 2000 compromise to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse dome. It requires approval from a supermajority of legislators for any local government to alter or remove a military monument.