U.S. Fifth Circuit - The FindLaw 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Appeals Court Upholds Flying Flag With Confederate Emblem

A Mississippi city will continue to fly a flag that includes the confederate battle emblem, following a decision by a federal appeals court.

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal of a lawsuit against Ocean Springs that said the flag sent the message black people are not welcome. The appeals court said the plaintiffs were not "aggrieved persons" under the law.

In Mississippi Rising Coalition v. City of Ocean Springs, the plaintiffs lost their claim that the flag is "racially demeaning and hostile." As long as the Confederate flag flies, however, it seems the Civil War isn't over.

Mississippi Rising

The Mississippi Rising Coalition and three local residents alleged the city violated the federal Fair Housing Act, but a trial judge ruled they did not prove unequal treatment. The Fifth Circuit agreed.

"The only act they allege is the City's resolution requiring the Mississippi state flag to be flown over public buildings," the appeals court said. "That is not a 'discriminatory housing practice' as required by the FHA, and plaintiffs are therefore not 'aggrieved persons' under the statute."

Ocean Springs flies the state flag, which features the Confederate emblem in the upper left corner. The same flag has been in use throughout the state since 1894.

It has long been a controversial issue, but Mississippi voters chose to keep the flag in 2001. Even so, some cities and universities have stopped raising the flag.

Slavery and Segregation

Ocean Springs didn't fly the flag for years under a previous administration. A new mayor took office in July 2017, however, and officials raised the flag again.

Supporters say the flag represents history. Opponents say it is a racist reminder of slavery and segregation.

The appeals court took no side on the issue, but said it was not against the law for a city to raise the flag.

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