AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s up to lawmakers, the State Preservation Board or the Texas Historical Commission to decide whether and how to address a request for removal or relocation of the Children of the Confederacy plaque inside the Texas State Capitol. That’s according to an opinion issued by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Wednesday morning.
State Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, requested a written opinion on the issue back in April of this year. State Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, requested removal of the plaque in 2017. Outgoing Speaker of the House Joe Straus had also urged for the plaque to be removed.
The plaque, erected by the Children of the Confederacy in 1959, claims the underlying cause of the Civil War was not slavery. Paxton’s opinion says the Texas Legislature approved the installation of the plaque back in 1959 and “retains authority to move or relocate the plaque today.”
“The Legislature has moved other historic artifacts and monuments through concurrent resolutions and could likewise use that process to relocate or remove the plaque here,” the opinion said.
The State Preservation Board and the Texas Historical Commission also have the authority to approve changes to Capitol buildings.
A report released in June by the Southern Poverty Law Center said Texas leads the nation in Confederate monument removal. The Center reported that of the 110 symbols removed since June 2015, 31 of them were in Texas. Virginia was next with 14, and Florida removed nine.
Straus called Paxton’s opinion “well-reasoned” in a written statement.
“I agree with the Attorney General’s determination and, as a member of the State Preservation Board, I remain ready to remove the blatantly inaccurate Children of the Confederacy Creed plaque,” Straus said. “There’s no need to delay this.”
Rep. Johnson sent in a building change request to State Preservation Board Executive Director Rod Welsh following Paxton’s opinion, asking for the Board to relocate the plaque outside the Texas Capitol complex.
“It is historically inaccurate,” his request said.
Gov. Greg Abbott chairs the State Preservation Board. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Straus serve as co-vice chairs.