The Volokh Conspiracy

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Free Speech

City-Organized Veterans Parade Can Exclude Confederate Flags


So holds the Eleventh Circuit today in Leake v. Drinkard, in an opinion by Judge William Pryor joined by Judge Barbara Lagoa and District Judge Harvey Schlesinger:

We hold that the [a pro-American veterans parade funded and organized by the City of Alpharetta, Georgia] was the City's speech. It follows that the Sons of Confederate Veterans "cannot force [the City] to include a Confederate battle flag" in the veterans parades it funds and organizes.

Surely correct, I think, just as the parade wouldn't have to include a Nazi flag or a Soviet flag or for that matter a British, Mexican, or Spanish flag—or for that matter even flags of neutral countries (or banners promoting pacifism), if the city decides that those flags don't fit the city's message. Likewise, if the City wants to put on a pro-police parade, it needn't include anti-police banners. Cf. Pleasant Grove City v. Summum (2009) (holding that a city may pick and choose what monuments to allow in its parks).