The Alabama Supreme Court ruled Friday to protect a Confederate monument in Birmingham after the majority-black city sued to have it hidden from view.
In a 46-page ruling in which the high court sided with the state, justices said city officials had materially altered the monument when the installed plywood around it to block it from view.
The monument is made of stone and stands 42 feet high. It was erected in 1095 by the Pellam Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy as a memorial to Confederate soldiers who fought in there during the Civil War.
The structure was named the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument.
The court’s ruling comes after the state government sued Birmingham over its violation of a 2017 law banning the removal and altering of Confederate statues more than 40 years old.
A lower court ruled that the state violated free speech rights.
“Although the plywood screen does not physically touch the monument, we must agree with the State that the plywood screen changes the appearance of the monument and so modifies and interferes with the monument,” the state’s high court ruled.
Rick Journey, a city spokesman, told The Associated Press he believes the ruling was less about the law and “more about politics.”
“We are carefully reviewing the opinion to determine our next step, but clearly the citizens of Birmingham should have the final decision about what happens with monuments on Birmingham city grounds,” he said.