CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville’s legal battle over the city’s statues of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson appears to be at an end. The Supreme Court of Virginia has issued an official mandate, finalizing the opinion it issued earlier in April, siding with the city and clearing the way for the removal of the statues from public parks.
Charlottesville had previously stated it was waiting for the court’s mandate to avoid potential future legal issues. The Monument Fund and allies, which fought against the removal of the statues, did not file a petition for a rehearing by the 21-day deadline.
“Earlier this week we received the Supreme Court’s mandate and very soon the Charlottesville City Council will issue a public notice of its intentions regarding the statues,” City Spokesperson Brian Wheeler said in a statement. “City staff will discuss the next steps with City Council at its May 3, 2021 meeting, and we anticipate Council will reaffirm its intentions through the General Assembly’s new statutory process.”
The court sided with Charlottesville in an opinion issued April 1, reversing a decision from Charlottesville Circuit Court. The commonwealth’s high court ruled unanimously that the state law that forbade localities from tampering with or removing war memorials never applied to Charlottesville in the first place.
“For reasons stated in writing and filed with the record, the court is of opinion that there is error in the judgment from which the appeal was filed,” the mandate reads. “Accordingly, the judgment and orders of the circuit court, and all forms of relief granted by the circuit court to the plaintiffs, are reversed and vacated, and final judgment is entered for the appellants. This order shall be certified to the said circuit court.”
A decision in Virginia’s Supreme Court can be appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States. It is unlikely that the appeal would be taken up, because there is no federal law in dispute in the case.