State workers take down a Confederate national flag on the grounds of the state Capitol, June 24, 2015, in Montgomery, Ala. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley ordered Confederate flags taken down from a monument at the state Capitol. 
Photo by Martin Swant/AP

Alabama governor sued for ordering removal of Confederate flags


An Alabama attorney is suing Gov. Robert Bentley for issuing an order last month to remove four Confederate flags from the state Capitol grounds, reported.

The lawsuit, filed by Melvin Hasting in Montgomery County Circuit Court on Tuesday, alleges that the Republican governor “overstepped his authority” in ordering the flags to be taken down following last month’s shooting massacre in Charleston, South Carolina. That attack left nine African American parishioners dead at the historic Emanuel AME Church, where the victims had gathered for a Bible study session. Photographs show the admitted gunman, Dylann Roof, posing with the Confederate battle flag in pictures taken prior to the attack.

RELATED: Charleston shooter expected to appear in court

Lawmakers in South Carolina voted to remove the Confederate emblem from the Capitol grounds in Columbia last week. And on Friday, the flag – along with the flag pole – came down.

Unlike in South Carolina, however, which requires a two-thirds supermajority of both houses of the state legislature in order to make any changes to Civil War symbols, Alabama has no law prohibiting the removal of Confederate flags by executive order. On June 24 – one week after the Charleston shooting – Gov. Bentley ordered the removal of four flags that flew above a memorial honoring Civil War soldiers in front of the statehouse in Montgomery.

“This is the right thing to do,” Bentley told at the time. “We are facing some major issues in this state regarding the budget and other matters that we need to deal with. This had the potential to become a major distraction as we go forward. I have taxes to raise, we have work to do. And it was my decision that the flag needed to come down.”

RELATED: President Obama greeted by Confederate flags in Oklahoma

Hasting, however, believes the governor’s action marked a violation of Alabama code, under which the Alabama Historical Commission has a duty to “promote and increase knowledge and understanding of the history of this State from the earliest time to the present, including the archaeological, Indian, Spanish, British, French, colonial, Confederate and American eras.” He asked the court for a preliminary injunction to settle the question over the powers of the Historical Commission and the governor, and for the Confederate flags to be returned to the memorial in their original condition.