One hundred and fifty-six years after the Civil War ended, lawmakers are still demanding states' rights to honor the Confederacy.
A bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to remove monuments to prominent racists and Confederate traitors from display in the U.S. Capitol. But a group of 12 House Republicans wants to give a state's congressional delegation the authority to veto the removal of its home state's statues.
Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) filed a bill on Tuesday to "prohibit the removal of a statue provided by a State for display in National Statuary Hall unless two-thirds of the members of the State's congressional delegation approve the removal."
Republican Reps. Brian Babin (TX), Mo Brooks (AL), Ted Budd (NC), Rick Crawford (AR), Jeff Duncan (SC), Matt Gaetz (FL), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), Kevin Hern (OK), Doug LaMalfa (CA), Thomas Massie (KY), and Steve Womack (AR) are original co-sponsors.
Under current rules, each state may select two statues of its own notable historical figures to be displayed in the National Statuary Hall Collection. The 100 statues are displayed in National Statuary Hall and other locations throughout the Capitol building.
Current honorees include Thomas Edison, Dwight Eisenhower, Helen Keller, Ronald Reagan, Will Rogers, Sakakawea (also known as Sacagawea), and George Washington. But they also include several former Confederate leaders and prominent racists, such as white supremacist and former North Carolina Gov. Charles Brantley Aycock, slavery defender and former Vice President John Caldwell Calhoun of South Carolina, and white supremacist and former Arkansas Sen. James Paul Clarke.
H.R. 3005, which passed in the House by a vote of 285-120, would require those states that currently display statues honoring individuals who voluntarily served the Confederate States of America to remove and replace them. It would also require removal of the statues of Aycock, Calhoun, and Clarke.
Norman and his 11 co-sponsors of H.R. 4234 were among the 120 representatives, all Republicans, who voted against the bill.
Though those voting yes included House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Whip Steve Scalise, and 65 other Republicans, Brooks railed against H.R. 3005 in a press statement titled "CONGRESSMAN MO BROOKS DEFENDS STATES' RIGHTS, RIPS INTOLERANT SOCIALISTS WHO SEEK TO TAKE DOWN CAPITOL STATUES THEY DON'T LIKE."
"Just as it would be wrong for Alabama and other states to dictate to New York and California who they must honor, it is similarly wrong and repulsive for New York, California, or other states to dictate to Alabama who we must honor," Brooks said. "I reject cancel culture and historical revisionism. ... Alabama, not New Yorkers, Californians, or anyone else, should decide who we wish to honor in Alabama's contribution to the National Statuary Collection. Socialist Democrat states should butt out!"
Brooks, Budd, Crawford, Duncan, Gaetz, Greene, Norman, and Womack each represent states whose statues would have to be removed should the Senate pass the bill and President Joe Biden sign it.
But if Norman's proposal passed, a 34% minority of a single state's delegation could block the removal of a statue, subverting majority rule in the House and even within the delegation itself.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.