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UPDATE: Court sides with Lexington on Confederate flag ban

Published On: Jul 05 2013 04:11:12 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 09 2013 07:24:53 PM EDT
WDBJ7.com
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -

A southern heritage group may continue its fight to fly confederate flags on Lexington city property.

Last Friday, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling on the city's 2011 ordinance.

Right now, the Sons of Confederate Veterans are deciding whether or not to appeal the decision.

The group says Lexington's ban to only allow certain flags to fly violates free speech and an earlier agreement to let the confederate flag fly.

The group's Roanoke-based lawyer says if you're in favor of freedom of speech, you should be in favor of getting rid of the ban.

"Whether you like the sons of confederate veterans or not, it's a freedom of speech argument and that affects everybody," said Tommy Strelka who advises the group.

In the original ruling, judges said it's not violating free speech because other flags are also banned, not just the confederate flag.

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A federal appeals court panel says Lexington's ban on the flying of the Confederate flag on city light poles does not violate a heritage group's right of free speech.

The three-judge panel of Richmond's 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a lower court ruling on the city's 2011 ordinance.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans had challenged the ordinance limiting flags that may fly on the poles to those representing the city, the U.S. and the state of Virginia.

The city enacted the rule after some residents complained that the flag is an offensive, divisive symbol of the South's history of slavery.

But the Southern heritage group argued the ordinance violates its constitutional rights.

The lower court said it was reasonable because it banned all non-government flag displays.