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Judge Orders Removal of Historic Confederate Monument in Arlington Cemetery

On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled in favor of the Biden Administration’s efforts to remove an iconic Confederate monument from Arlington National Cemetery, despite efforts to preserve it.

As reported by ABC News, the removal of the monument was originally ordered by the Biden Administration’s “Naming Commission,” a partisan group dedicated to the renaming or removal of everything related to the Confederacy in the United States. Having previously ordered the renaming of many military bases, including the renowned Fort Bragg, the commission ordered the removal of the Confederate monument in Arlington Cemetery, which is surrounded by the graves of Confederate soldiers, as well as the grave of the monument’s sculptor, Moses Ezekiel.

After efforts by several heritage groups, including Defend Arlington and Save Southern Heritage, the attempted removal of the monument was blocked by U.S. District Judge Rossie Alston on Monday over concerns that the removal would desecrate the surrounding graves. He thus ordered that the government was temporarily prohibited “from taking any acts to deconstruct, tear down, remove, or alter the object of this case — the Confederate Reconciliation Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery and the surrounding gravesites — pending further action of this Court.”

However, Alston later determined that “Plaintiffs have not alleged facts that support the premise that Defendants intend to “destroy” rather than “remove” the Memorial.”

“The parties discussed at oral argument that the Memorial will likely end up reconstituted at another site,” Judge Alston continued. “Moreover, Plaintiffs had no answer regarding how the deconstruction and removal of the Memorial in the manner planned would result in irreparable harm, given that it appears that the Memorial can be reconstructed at a later time if Plaintiffs ultimately succeed in the claims.”

A previous lawsuit by the heritage groups had been dismissed by U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell on December 12th, who also rejected their request for an emergency stay against the removal. The groups’ complaint pointed out that “the removal will desecrate, damage, and likely destroy the Memorial longstanding at ANC as a grave marker and impede the Memorial’s eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.”

Officials at the cemetery have insisted that they will do everything they can to protect the surrounding graves and headstones during the removal process.

The removal of Arlington’s Confederate monument may be the most high-profile instance yet of the destruction or removal since the anti-Confederate movement began several years ago. Initially starting in 2015 but accelerating in 2017 and then again in 2020, rioters targeted many Confederate monuments for vandalism and destruction, while elsewhere local governments caved to mob pressure and officially removed certain monuments. Such efforts have since spread to non-Confederate monuments, including statues of Christopher Columbus and monuments to various Founding Fathers, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

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About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.

Photo: ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA - DECEMBER 20: A detail view of the bottom half of the Confederate Memorial, which is being dismantled and removed from Section 16 at Arlington National Cemetery on December 20, 2023 in Arlington, Virginia. The U.S. Naming Commission recommended that the Confederate Memorial be removed from the cemetery and relocated to to the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park. Unveiled in 1914, 44 years after the end of the American Civil War, the memorial commemorates members of the armed forces of the Confederate States of America who died during the war. 482 of whom, along with some of their spouses, are buried in a circle around the memorial. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)