Controversial Confederate Monuments Can Be Taken Down in New Orleans

By George Khoury, Esq. on March 08, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Federal Appellate Court for the Fifth Circuit rejected the appeal of a few organizations that are trying to protect a controversial, Confederate monuments in New Orleans. Three of the four monuments that are the subjects of this litigation can now be removed and stored pending a more appropriate location (if that even exists).

In the short, three-page, court order ruling against those seeking to preserve the Confederate monuments, issued yesterday, the Court of Appeals specifically states that the groups' legal claims "wholly lack legal viability and support." The group asserted arguments that the city did not own the monuments, nor the property where the monuments were located, and that their protectable interest stemmed from the Napoleonic principle of negotiorum gestio, which is a barely recognized principle anywhere but Louisiana.

Glorification of Monumental Hate

The monuments at the center of this case all revolve around glorifying Confederate leaders and events. The three statutes that this court order cleared for removal include a statute of General Robert E. Lee, General P.G.T. Beauregard, and the Confederacy's president, Jefferson Davis. The fourth monument, named the Battle of Liberty Place, which the city acquiesced that it could not remove, was built in honor of a white supremacist group that attempted to rise up against the post-civil war reconstruction government.

Given the subject matter and historical context of these monuments, the city's decision to put new monuments at those sites seems fitting. Symbols of the Confederacy are often used as the symbols for hate groups, and, as the New Orleans government appears to believe, public monuments should be symbols of unification, rather than separation.

The Fourth Monument and the Future

The white supremacist honoring monument is actually protected by a 25 year old court order preventing the city from removing it. However, along with an announcement praising the court's order, the mayor stated that the city will begin the legal process to end the old court order protecting the fourth monument.

Additionally, the mayor explained that the removal of these monuments will provide the city with an opportunity to create new symbols that can be celebrated, rather than create problems. In fact, the monuments at issue here were even declared to be a public nuisance in a public ordinance.

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