Gov. Henry McMaster said he agreed with a South Carolina judge’s ruling last month that allowed the town of Greenwood to change the controversial wording on a war memorial, even as the state’s attorney general asks for the case to be reconsidered.
McMaster told reporters Friday he believes Judge Frank Addy properly ruled the Heritage Act does not apply to the Greenwood World War monument because it is privately owned by the local American Legion. The monument divides the names of fallen soldiers into “white” and “colored.”
“The circumstances of the case, as I understand them, I think the judge made the right decision,” McMaster said during a brief meeting with reporters. The governor was in town to celebrate the groundbreaking of a carbon fiber facility.
Gov. McMaster discusses Greenwood war memorial ruling (Courtesy Greenwood affiliate WCRS) 1:43
McMaster, the former state attorney general, said he supports the Heritage Act itself. The 2000 law prevents local governments from removing or altering war monuments without legislative approval.
“The Heritage Act is still presumed to be constitutional. The judge did not rule that it was not unconstitutional,” he added. “That’s very important. I support that Heritage Act 100 percent.”
The act was passed as part of a compromise which removed a Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse dome.
However, McMaster’s successor for the post Attorney General Alan Wilson is asking Judge McMahon to reconsider the case. A motion filed last week argues the law should apply since the monument is located on publicly-owned land. The motion argued the judge’s precedent could impact more than 100 other historic monuments across the state that are public land, but erected by private organizations.
The Greenwood American Legion plans to replace the segregated name plaques with others that list the fallen alphabetically.