RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Attorney General Mark Herring has urged the new judge overseeing the lawsuit aimed at protecting the Robert E. Lee statue from being removed to dissolve the temporary injunction preventing the state from taking down the monument.
Along with the motion to dissolve the injunction, Herring also filed a brief Monday defending the decision to remove the Confederate statue from Richmond’s Monument Avenue.
“Plaintiff’s claims are antithetical to foundational principles of democratic governance, and those principles should begin and end this case,” Herring’s brief states. “It is well-settled that government-owned monuments on government-owned property are core government speech that inevitably convey messages about what a political community believes and values.”
The lawsuit challenges the governor’s authority to order the removal, claiming that if the state fails to guard and protect the monument it violates provisions in deeds from 1890, 1887 and also the state constitution and law. Northam said last month that the monument would be taken down “as soon as possible.”
Circuit Court Judge Bradley Cavedo extended a temporary injunction to halt the monument’s removal on June 18, giving Joseph Blackburn, the attorney for William Gregory, the plaintiff in the case, 21 days to file a new motion.
The injunction was extended again by Cavedo, who has since recused himself from the lawsuit citing the location of his Richmond home, and the amended lawsuit was filed.
“My team and I are working as hard and as quickly as possible to resolve this case and ensure that the Commonwealth can remove this this divisive and antiquated relic from its place of prominence,” Herring said in a statement.