Virginia Supreme Court Green-Lights Removal Of Richmond’s Robert E. Lee Statue After Lengthy Legal Battle

After more than a decade of legal battles the Virginia Supreme Court has cleared the way for the removal of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, which was widely condemned as a symbol of racial inequity.

RICHMOND (VA) - FEBRUARY 8: The Robert E. Lee Monument is located on Monument Avenue. February 8, 2019, at 8:30... in Richmond, Virginia. Virginia's state politics are in turmoil with Governor Ralph Northam and State Attorney General Mark Herring both Democrats and Republican Senate Majority leader Tommy Norment being involved with past use associations with blackface. Two women have accused Governor Justin Fairfax of sexual misconduct. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images). Getty Images

The Key Facts

In response to two lawsuits filed by residents seeking to stop the removal of the statues, the state Supreme Court sided in favor of the state and disregarded all previous injunctions imposed previously by a lower court. Plaintiffs claimed that neither the governor nor the state General Assembly had the power to revoke an agreement that placed the statue on Monument Avenue in 1899. Ralph Northam (D), and the states General Assembly were not authorized to cancel an agreement that had placed the statue at Monument Avenue in 1899. Lawyers for Virginia claimed that the Commonwealth could not be forced to keep in perpetuity a monument that conveys a racist message. This was as stated by Mark Herring, Virginia Attorney General (D), during oral arguments in the case. The court agreed with the state argument. They argued that the restrictive covenants in the deeds were contrary to public policy. Their effect was to force the Commonwealth to communicate a message it does not agree with.

Important Quote

Attorney General Herring tweeted that the case was won. The Supreme Court of Virginia has dismantled all injunctions, and the statue could now be removed. This is a huge win for an inclusive Commonwealth!

Important Background

For years, calls to remove the statue, which is the largest and last Confederate monument along Monument Avenue, have been made, even after the August 2017 massacre at Unite the Right. Governor. Northam declared that the Richmond statue would be down. Northam's announcement caused a frenzy of legal challenges, rulings, and injunctions which delayed its removal for over a year.