As activists step-up their pressure on Governor Pat McCrory to end the sale of specialty license plates bearing the Confederate flag, the governor wants citizens to know he’d like to end the practice, but simply can’t.
McCrory’s press office released the following statement late Thursday:
“The governor has made it clear he wants to end the issuance of North Carolina license plates that bear the Confederate battle flag,” said Graham Wilson, the governor’s press secretary. “But the law doesn’t give him the authority to do so. It’s time for the General Assembly to provide the governor the legislative fix he needs so that this issue can be resolved once and for all.”
The law lays out the requirements that civic organizations, like the Sons of the Confederacy, must meet in order to get a specialty license plate. Once that criteria is met, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and hence the governor, does not have the legal authority to deny the plate.
Senate President Phil Berger has said previously the governor does have the authority he needs to end the sale of the Confederate plates without further action by the legislature.
The Sanford-Herald seeks to settle the dispute. The paper’s editorial board writes Friday that in this case, the ball is squarely in McCrory’s court. Here’s an excerpt from that editorial:
The governor chose to take an official position on this license plate issue, which we applaud, but so far, he seems unwilling to put any force behind his words. Even if he can’t make it happen singlehandedly, surely his visibility and influence as the state’s highest officeholder could carry his desires a fair distance.
He must recognize that he can — and should — do something here, as his South Carolina counterpart Nikki Haley did in the days after the Charleston shooting. Haley’s swift, decisive command — which transcended party lines — was a study in leadership after a tragedy. And every community can learn something from the way Charleston reacted with strength and unity to a hateful act designed to divide.
Haley realized that if her state is to heal, there is no place for a “deeply offensive symbol of a brutally offensive past.”
Advocacy groups reportedly have delivered a petition to McCrory asking him to use his executive authority to halt the sale of these license plates. From where we sit, the ball appears to be squarely in his court.
Read the Herald’s full editorial here.