Group argues Confederate statue removals violate free speech

Group argues Confederate statue removals violate free speech
FILE - In this Aug. 21, 2017 file photo, a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee is removed from the University of Texas campus, in Austin, Texas. Judges for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Tuesday Oct. 8, 2019, in the latest effort to counter the University of Texas' removal of several Confederate statues. In 2017, after violent white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., UT President Gregory L. Fenves authorized the removal of statues of Confederate figures — Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston and John Reagan — along with Gov. James Stephen Hogg from the UT South Mall. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal court of appeals is hearing arguments in a lawsuit accusing the University of Texas of violating free speech rights by removing Confederate statues.

The Texas chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans sued after the university put three statues of leading Confederate figures in storage. The move followed 2017 white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which three people died.

The lawsuit argues that the university breached its agreement with Maj. George Washington Littlefield, who donated the statues in 1921.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Tuesday.

A university spokesman didn't respond to a request for comment.

The Austin American-Statesman reports Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says the court should dismiss the case. He says the group doesn't have standing to challenge the university.

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Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com

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