Richmond’s Robert E. Lee Monument to Come Down After Virginia Supreme Court Dismisses Lawsuits Blocking Removal

The Virginia Supreme Court dissolved injunctions blocking the removal of the Lee monument in Richmond, according to an opinion and an order published by the court on Thursday. In June 2020, Governor Ralph Northam ordered the removal of the monument, which sits on a small piece of land owned by Virginia in the middle of Richmond. Courts issued injunctions to prevent removal while considering two lawsuits challenging the legal authority to remove the monument.

In Taylor v. Northam, plaintiffs argued that documents from the late 1800s prevent the removal. But the court said that the restrictive covenants are unenforceable, and said that they unreasonably try to force government speech indefinitely.

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Virginia Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Lee Monument Removal Lawsuits

The Virginia Supreme Court heard arguments for two lawsuits blocking the removal of the Lee statue in Richmond on Tuesday.

A year ago, protests sparked by Minneapolis’ police treatment of George Floyd spread across the country. In Virginia, those protests spurred politicians to start removing controversial Confederate monuments. Although Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney was able to quickly remove most of the monuments on Monument Avenue, the most famous monument — a huge statue of Robert E. Lee — sits on state property ceded to the state under conditions that have complicated efforts to remove the bronze general.

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AG Herring Asks Virginia Supreme Court to Reject Appeal in Lee Statue Removal Case

State Attorney General Mark Herring filed papers with the Virginia Supreme Court on Wednesday formally asking the body to reject an appeal that seeks to keep the controversial Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond from being removed.

The appeal was filed with the high court Monday on behalf of the plaintiffs, a group of Richmond residents living near the monument who have been challenging Governor Ralph Northam’s authority to remove the statute in court since summer.

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