Democratic and Republican lawmakers in the Golden State hope the old adage, “as California goes, so goes the nation,” is still true. The state Assembly this week called for a nationwide ban on Confederate flags and symbols displayed on federal property and state capitols. The joint resolution was unanimously approved with 74 votes Monday, the Associated Press reported.
The resolution calls on the U.S. Congress to enact restrictions on displays of the flag – restrictions that California already adopted in a measure signed by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown last year. Under the law, state officials are prohibited from displaying or selling merchandise emblazoned with the Confederate battle flag, according to a Los Angeles Times report. The ban does not apply to images of the flag that are found in books, digital media or state museums if they are displayed for educational or historical purposes.
Assemblyman Isadore Hall III, a Democrat from Compton, near Los Angeles, who authored the legislation, has said the law does not apply to individuals and does not infringe on free speech. That’s been a chief concern of Confederate history buffs who want to preserve the Civil War symbols as a matter of Southern culture.
The Confederate flag came under scrutiny nationwide after the slaughter of nine parishioners at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, by an apparent white supremacist in June. Lawmakers in South Carolina quickly removed the flag from the state house grounds.
Other states, including Mississippi and Louisiana, are now revisiting how and where Confederate symbols are displayed. In Mississippi, the Confederate battle flag is displayed in the top left corner of its state flag, but that could soon change.
A group of prominent Mississippians, including author and former state Rep. John Grisham, actor Morgan Freeman and musician Jimmy Buffett, recently signed a letter asking state lawmakers to remove the Confederate symbol from the state’s flag. Well-known biker groups in Mississippi have also rallied in support of a change to the state flag, according to a CNN report.
In Louisiana, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s proposal to remove four Confederate monuments received backing from two city commissions last week, according to the Los Angeles Times. However, Bobby Jindal, the state’s Republican governor and GOP presidential candidate, said he would attempt to block their removal.
"Gov. Jindal opposes the tearing down of these historical statues, and he has instructed his staff to look into the Heritage Act to determine the legal authority he has as governor to stop it," Doug Cain, a Jindal spokesman, said in a statement released Friday.