The California Assembly on Monday passed legislation that would ban the state from selling or displaying the Confederate flag, or any similar image, with Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly casting the sole vote in opposition.
Donnelly, of Twin Peaks near Lake Arrowhead, said the bill violated the 1st Amendment and "would silence free speech.''
"We shouldn't be here picking the kind of speech that we like. I abhor racism but the concept that in a country that was founded on the right of free speech ... that we are going to ban certain types of speech is antithetical to the 1st Amendment," Donnelly said on the floor of the Assembly.
"I am not standing here defending the symbol,'' he said. "I am standing here defending the principle that the 1st Amendment should apply in all state buildings, of all places,''
The legislation passed 72 to 1 and now heads to the state Senate for consideration.
Assemblyman Isadore Hall III (D-Compton) said the battle flag of the Confederacy is a symbol of "racism, exclusion, oppression and violence toward many Americans."
"Its symbolism and history is directly linked to the enslavement, torture and murder of millions of Americans through the mid-19th century,'' Hall said. "Even today its public display is designed to instill fear, intimidation and a direct threat of violence toward others. "
Hall filed the bill after his mother, during a visit, saw a replica of Confederate money being sold at the state Capitol in Sacramento. An image of the Confederate flag is on those bills.
Republican Donald P. Wagner (R-Irvine) spoke in support of the measure. He said that contrary to Donnelly's concern that the legislation would infringe upon free speech, the bill was limited to the state's commercial conduct and was "tailored in way entirely appropriate. It would pass 1st Amendment muster."