Court overturns rulings allowing Confederate statue removal

The Kentucky Supreme Court has overturned lower court rulings that allowed leaders in Kentucky’s largest city to remove a Confederate statue from a prominent location three years ago.

The 6-1 ruling issued Thursday said Louisville violated due process in getting approval to remove the John Breckenridge Castleman monument from Cherokee Triangle, news outlets reported.

The statue was vandalized several times over a few years before it was removed from its pedestal in June 2020 following a decision from Louisville’s landmarks commission.

A group called Friends of Louisville Public Art filed a lawsuit challenging the landmarks commission ruling. They argued the statue was a local landmark and said some commission members should not have been allowed to vote because they have a conflict of interest.

While the group acknowledged Castleman’s Confederate ties, they argued that he later renounced his allegiance to the Confederacy. Castleman later served as a brigadier general in the U.S. Army. He was partially responsible for establishing Louisville’s park system and fought to keep the city’s parks and playgrounds open to Black residents.

Kentucky’s Court of Appeals upheld a Jefferson Circuit Court judge’s ruling dismissing the lawsuit. The appeals court ruled that there were “no facts to support the conflict of interests claim.”

The Supreme Court disagreed. Chief Justice Laurance B. VanMeter said it was a “patent” conflict for city employees to vote on the application to remove the monument.

”… Their employment and their being asked to sit in review of an application filed by their employer were sufficient to raise a reasonable question of impartiality such that recusal was required as a matter of law,” he wrote for the majority.

Plaintiff Steve Wiser said he was pleased with the court’s ruling.

Kevin Trager, a spokesman for the city, said officials were reviewing the opinion before deciding how to proceed.

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Republished with permission from The Associated Press.




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