WASHINGTON, DC, June 29, 2017 – Today, Reed Smith attorneys Michael Scott and Kristen Ashe filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider an ongoing challenge to the constitutionality of Confederate imagery incorporated in the Mississippi state flag. The cert petition was filed on behalf of Mississippi attorney Carlos Moore, who mounted a legal challenge in federal court in 2016 alleging that the statutorily prescribed official state banner violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

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The Mississippi state flag incorporates the Confederate battle emblem – the Rebel X – in the top left corner, and is the only state flag that continues to include Confederate imagery. Reed Smith’s Scott has provided ongoing pro bono representation to Moore in the case – Carlos E. Moore v. Governor Dewey Phillip Bryant – in which Moore alleges that the flag is a form of government speech that endorses white supremacy and the second-class status of African Americans. In his lawsuit, Moore has cited both adverse emotional and physical issues brought on by ongoing exposure to the Confederate imagery.

“This case presents an extremely important and crucial opportunity for the Supreme Court to decide a case that involves equal rights and protections afforded by our Constitution,” Scott said. “This flag is an offensive symbol, and the time is long past due that all citizens of Mississippi are freed from racially disparaging imagery that promotes racial violence and hatred.”

The cert petition was filed in appeal to a decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in March that dismissed Moore’s lawsuit on standing.

According to the petition, “The message in Mississippi’s flag has always been one of racial hostility and insult and it is pervasive and unavoidable by both children and adults, with the flag flying ‘atop the state capitol, on state property, in all state office buildings, . . . at or near all public school property’ and in state courtrooms. The state’s continued expression of its message of racial disparagement sends a message to African-American citizens of Mississippi that they are second-class citizens and ‘encourages or incites private citizens to commit acts of racial violence.’”