JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Attorneys for the Mississippi governor say two levels of federal courts have been correct in blocking a lawsuit that challenges the Confederate battle emblem on the state flag.
Representing Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, assistant state attorneys general filed papers Wednesday with the U.S. Supreme Court. They said Carlos Moore, an African-American attorney from Mississippi who sued the state, has failed to show he suffered harm because of the flag.
Moore is asking the nation's high court to revive his lawsuit over the flag that the state has used since 1894. His lawsuit seeks to have the flag declared an unconstitutional relic of slavery.
Mississippi has the last state flag featuring the Confederate symbol — red field topped by a blue tilted cross dotted by 13 white stars. Critics say the symbol is racist. Supporters say it represents history.
Mississippi residents who voted in a 2001 referendum chose to keep the flag. But, the banner and other Confederate symbols have come under increased scrutiny since 2015, when nine black worshippers were shot to death in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, by a white man who had posed for photos with the rebel flag.
Moore filed his lawsuit in February 2016. A federal district judge and an appeals court ruled against him, but his attorneys asked the Supreme Court in June to consider the case during the term that began this month. The court accepts a fraction of cases on appeal.
In their filing Wednesday, attorneys for the governor wrote of Moore: "All in all, Petitioner alleges that he personally and is deeply offended by Mississippi's state flag — and the sincerity of those beliefs is not doubted." But the state attorneys said a lawsuit must show an "allegation of discriminatory treatment," and Moore failed to do that.
During an appearance Wednesday in Jackson, Bryant repeated his position that if the flag design is to be reconsidered, it should be done in another statewide election.
"I just think it's a frivolous lawsuit and I don't think the Supreme Court is going to take it up," Bryant told reporters.
Several cities and towns and all eight of the state's public universities have stopped flying the flag amid concerns that it is offensive in a state where 38 percent of the population is black. Many pulled the flag from display after the South Carolina church massacre.
Associated Press writer Jeff Amy contributed to this report.
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