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August 25, 2017

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Bill Turnier

It is not surprising that the statues you mentioned were made in the North. The were several purveyors of various types of statues located in the North that provided both metal and granite statues of a variety of types. The price for a common soldier in cap made of granite ran about $450.
I personally am troubled by state wide statutes that bar removal of "heritage" monuments by local authorities. It would be more prudent to leave such decisions up to local authorities who can more properly gauge local opinions. I am in NC and local opinions of these statues vary. We all know what happened in Durham which is not very surprising. In a small town like Statesville such a monument would not present a problem. There is another problem presented by our state law, at UNC the university is currently incurring considerable expense in providing security for such a monument located in a central location which could probably be moved to a campus cemetery where it would create no problem. The legislature cast the burden of protecting monuments on local authorities while providing no funds to meet the cost of the security. How long guards will be stationed at our statue and what the ultimate cost will be, no one knows.

Bill Turnier

This video clip may be of interest to some. It shows some bit of what is going on. I wish to point out that the young man who opposes the statue and insists on wearing a mask and is arrested is being arrested under an old anti-klan statue which bars people from going in public wearing a mask. https://vimeo.com/231021574

Brian Frye

Bill,

Thanks for your comment! I had heard that many of the statutes were cast in northern states. I understand that some of the sculptors were also relatively notable? I think that could provide an additional rationale for relocation and preservation, rather than destruction. It's interesting that the cost was about $450 (at what point in time?), especially given that the 1911 statue apparently cost $15,000, half of which was covered by the state.

I agree that local governments should make decisions about the location of public art, rather than state commissions. However, to the extent that state governments have taken it upon themselves to police these decisions via state commissions, it seems they have taken somewhat different substantive approaches. I wonder whether it will affect their legal effectiveness? So far as I know, the Kentucky statute has not been litigated.

BLF

Steve Lubet

Doesn't it depend on whether relocation constitutes "removal"?

It seems obvious that municipalities ought to be able to move monuments for, say, cleaning and repairs, or across a park in the event of subsidence, or to a new courthouse if the old one is being torn down. So "removal" would have to mean something more than a change of location.

Brian Frye

Steve,

A fair point. While the statute is far from pellucid, it provides that a "military heritage object" cannot be "destroyed, removed, sold, or significantly altered, other than for repair or renovation or temporary loan not exceeding one (1) year without the written consent of the commission." It is my impression that the commission considers "relocation" & "removal" to be synonyms, and I believe it required permission when one of the statutes was moved a few yards to accommodate a redesign of Cheapside Park.

Interestingly, the courthouse in Cheapside Park was decommissioned many years ago & a new courthouse was erected a few blocks away. I wonder if that constitutes constructive "removal" from their original location? In any case, it occurred long before the commission was created.

BLF

Deep State Special Legal Counsel

The most alarming and disturbing removal of monument was that of Supreme Court Justice Taney who authored the Dred Scott opinion. It was a terrible decision and lead to the Civil War.

However, he did not do anything "personally" wrong. He may have been incorrect, but was not wrong. He was adjudicating the law as he saw it at the time.

From time to time, our judges get it wrong. Justice Breyer said that if we are to have to Rule of Law, we must respect that.

Justice Taney was doing his job as was appointed to do. It is like me defending a child molester or drunk driver.

The best thing to do is make a complete historical monument and show Plessy, Brown...make it a civil rights exhibit...

Bill Turnier

Removal of monuments can be a practical situation. For example, in Camden, Maine where I spend part of my summers, the statue was originally placed on a traffic island. After a few accidents with trucks, it was moved to a location in a park. Requiring permission of a state legislature is ridiculous. Local authorities should be trusted with monuments placed on their public lands.
An interesting article on the business of Civil War monuments is to be found at the following link. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/why-those-confederate-soldier-statues-look-a-lot-like-their-union-counterparts/2017/08/18/cefcc1bc-8394-11e7-ab27-1a21a8e006ab_story.html?utm_term=.c685dd92947b

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