Maryland is likely to begin recalling Maryland license plates with images of the Confederate flag this fall after a federal judge agreed on Thursday to lift a 1997 injunction that prevented the state from taking the specialty plates out of circulation.
U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis issued an order that allows Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) to lift the injunction.
“I look forward to the day when these plates are not longer on the road,” Frosh said in a statement. “This flag is a painful symbol that divides us, conjuring images of hate and subjugation. It has not place in any contemporary government use.”
Frosh said that Maryland tried to recall the specialty tags in the 1990s, but a federal judge at the time ruled that the license plates were protected under the First Amendment.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that Texas could reject a special tag requested by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. As a result, Frosh, with the backing of Gov. Larry Hogan (R), requested that the injunction in Maryland be lifted.
The debate surrounding Confederate flags, Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty tags and other Confederate symbols came to the forefront after the mass shooting by a suspected white supremacist at an African American church in Charleston, S.C., in June.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) signed a bill in July to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds. A week after the bill signing, the flag was taken down.