by Sam Spence
State lawmakers are urging Gov. Nikki Haley to use a little-known provision in state code that would allow the Confederate flag’s temporary removal during a Statehouse memorial service for the slain state Sen. Clementa Pinckney.
Pinckney, the pastor for Mother Emanuel in Charleston, was one of nine people killed on the night of Wed. June 17 in a suspected racial attack on the AME church.
Just after noon today, the body of the Sen. Pinckney will arrive at the state capitol in a horse-drawn caisson and his coffin will be placed in the rotunda of the Statehouse to allow colleagues to pay their respects. Under state law, when Pinckney’s body arrives, the Confederate flag will remain flying outside.
Gov. Nikki Haley and a dozen other lawmakers stood near the spot where Pinckney’s body will lie in state on Monday and called for lawmakers to take action to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds. Since then, lawmakers have approved debate on the proposal, but the ultimate fate of the flag will likely not be finalized before services later this week.
Appearing on "The Rachel Maddow Show" last night, House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford said it was “abhorrent” that the flag would continue flying atop its 30-foot pole during the viewing.
State code Section 1-10-10, which lays out very specifically how the Confederate battle flag is to be flown outside the Statehouse, also outlines its upkeep. The law says the Budget and Control Board “shall replace the flags at appropriate intervals as may be necessary due to wear.”
On Morning Joe today, Rutherford said he hoped the governor might notice the flag “looks a little wind-torn” and exercise her power to remove the flag for “repairs.”
Congressman Jim Clyburn joined Rutherford in his sentiments, tweeting this morning that there is precedent for removing the flag temporarily.
There is precedent for the flag to be brought down temporarily, Gov. McNair did it. I hope that will happen here today. @NewDay— James E. Clyburn (@Clyburn) June 24, 2015
Tyler Jones, spokesman for the House Democratic Caucus, points to a passage in Clyburn's recent memoir, where the congressman describes a day in the late 1960s when Gov. Robert McNair reportedly took down the flag to be cleaned.
Pinckney’s body is scheduled to lie in state for four hours this afternoon. There’s no indication yet from Haley on whether she’s amenable to Rutherford’s proposal.