Supreme Court refuses case on Confederate flags

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

WASHINGTON -- A descendant of a Confederate soldier has lost a Supreme Court challenge of a ban on Confederate battle flags in national cemeteries.

Justices refused Tuesday to settle a free-speech skirmish over the government flag restrictions, imposed out of worry that the flag is racially divisive.

The Department of Veterans Affairs flies the American flag continuously at Point Lookout Confederate Cemetery, a Civil War cemetery in Maryland, and allows frequent private displays of some other flags, including the black and white "POW/MIA" flag. The Confederate flag, however, is allowed only two days a year.

Patrick J. Griffin III, a former leader of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, went to court after cemetery administrators turned down his request to fly what he described as a historically accurate Confederate battle flag. The flag was intended to memorialize the fact that all of the approximately 3,300 soldiers buried at Point Lookout served in the Confederate army, Griffin said.

The Supreme Court refused without comment to consider Griffin's case.

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