South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has had a change of heart since last October when she was asked about the Confederate flag at the capitol and responded that she had “not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag.” Its all good.
Even after the racially motivated hate crime at Emanuel A.M.E. Church last week, Governor Haley was reluctant to call for the removal of the Confederate flag, saying that “I think the state will start talking about that again. We’ll see where it goes.”
Today Governor Haley finally called for the removal of the Confederate flag. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley Calls for Removal of Confederate Flag From State Capitol:
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the state Capitol Monday, less than a week after a 21-year-old white man gunned down nine people at a historic African American church.
Support for the flag to come down from leaders around the state and around the country has been steadily growing in the wake of the devastating attack.
“Today, we are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill will, to say it is time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds,” Haley said during a news conference attended by Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, along with other state leaders.
The announcement was met by applause and cheers from those in attendance.
The General Assembly’s session ended on June 4, but lawmakers are meeting Tuesday to pass a budget compromise, at which point they can vote on extending the session to debate the removal of the Confederate flag. A decision to continue the session would take two-thirds of the vote.
If they don’t, Haley said she would use her authority to call them back into session to debate on the flag.
“The murderer, now locked up in Charleston, said he hoped his actions would start a race war. We have an opportunity to show that not only was he wrong, but that just the opposite is happening,” Haley said. “My hope is that by removing a symbol that divides us, we can move our state forward in harmony, and we can honor the nine blessed souls who are now in heaven.”
The call for action is a departure from Haley’s original stance on the flag. “Outside groups are free to voice their concerns and problems with it, but revisiting this issue is not part of the governor’s agenda,” her spokesman, Doug Mayer, told the Post and Courier in 2013. And when Haley ran for re-election last year, she said the flag wasn’t an issue.
Senators Scott and Graham quickly announced their agreement with Haley’s new position.
“I hope that, by removing the flag, we can take another step towards healing and recognition — and a sign that South Carolina is moving forward,” Graham said in a statement after the news conference.
“I believe it is time for the flag to come down,” Scott echoed, adding that he hoped the “General Assembly will move to this topic swiftly, so that our state can continue to move forward.”
Reince Priebus of the Republican National Committee also issued a statement calling for taking down the Confederate flag. RNC joins call to remove Confederate flag:
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Monday afternoon added his voice to a swiftly growing list of Republicans calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of South Carolina’s state house.
“Now is the time to do what is right, and I support the call by Governor [Nikki] Haley and South Carolina leaders to remove the Confederate battle flag from state house grounds,” Priebus said in the statement.
“Our future must be better than our past,” Priebus’ statement continued. “We are not meant to be a country divided by racial tensions; we are meant to be a country that stands united.”
State Sen. Clementa Pinckney will lie in state at the capitol beginning on Wednesday. President Obama and Vice President Biden will attend the funeral of State Sen. Clementa Pinckney on Friday, with Obama delivering the eulogy. The state legislature voting to remove the Confederate flag this week would be an apt memorial to the victims of Emanuel A.M.E. Church.
The media has widely reported that the 2000 state law regarding the Confederate flag requires a 2/3 vote of the state legislature to remove it. That may be what the law says, but this law can be repealed by a simple majority vote. The Big Lie About What It Takes To Remove The Confederate Flag In South Carolina:
The media has emphasized the difficulty of removing the flag, citing a state law which requires a two-thirds majority to do so. The Los Angeles Times cited the two-thirds requirement in an article entitled “Why the Confederate flag won’t come down in South Carolina anytime soon.” The Washington Post wrote “Any change to the position of the flag requires two-thirds approval of the state legislature.” Poltifact rated the claim that “any changes” to the display of the Confederate flag in South Carolina required a supermajority vote as “true.”
But it isn’t true. Congressman James Clyburn (D-SC) explained:
In an interview with ThinkProgress, South Carolina representative James Smith, who is also a practicing attorney, said he “agreed with the Congressman 100 percent.” According to Smith, the provision of the South Carolina law requiring a two-thirds vote for any changes is “facially unconstitutional.” If the state legislature, by a simple majority, voted to repeal the law and remove the Confederate Flag from statehouse grounds, Smith believes that South Carolina courts would deem that a valid exercise of legislative power.
The South Carolina Constitution requires constitutional amendments to be approved by a two-thirds majority. But the law regarding the display of the Confederate flag was not passed as a constitutional amendment. It is an ordinary piece of legislation.
So we will see what the South Carolina legislature decides to do when it comes back into session on Tuesday, or Governor Nikki Haley calls them back into special session. Will the Confederate flag come down this week? Stay tuned.