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Judge rules on Confederate battle flag on Va. plates

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles released this image of a sample plate for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which includes a depiction of the Confederate flag. (Courtesy Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles)

UPDATE: July 31, 2015 1:01 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Confederate flags on Virginia license plates will soon be a thing of the past.

A federal judge in Danville decided Friday that Virginia won’t be forced to issue Sons of Confederate Veteran’s license plates with the confederate battle flag any more.

The heritage group had won an injunction requiring it about 15 years ago, but a Supreme Court ruling this summer found that Texas should be able to turn down Confederate battle flag plates since license plates are government speech, not personal.

A formal order will be issued later that will clarify whether this ruling will only apply to new plates or whether the commonwealth can recall the more than 1,500 plates that are out on the road right now.

EARLIER: July 31, 2015 5:54 a.m.: 

WASHINGTON — Arguments over whether the Confederate battle flag can be dropped from specialty Virginia license plates will be heard Friday in a federal court.

The plates support the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the confederate group says the flag represents heritage, and should be allowed. The group cites decisions in 1999 and 2001 that ended up requiring Maryland and Virginia to issue the plates.

But the Supreme Court ruled in June that Texas could reject a similarly designed plate, which Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe says trumps the lower court rulings.

McAuliffe and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan both backed the removal of the battle flag from the specialty license plates following the Supreme Court decision and the Charleston church shooting.

The court hearing is expected to focus on whether the Supreme Court ruling voids the earlier rulings from the lower courts.

The federal court hearing will take place in Danville, Virginia.

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