Nikki Haley, Lindsey Graham To Call For Removal Of Confederate Flag (Update: Senator Tim Scott As Well)

The tide has turned.

Confederate Flag South Carolina

South Carolina Nikki Haley will reportedly call for the Confederate flag flying on the grounds of the State Capitol to come down at a press conference later today:

Gov. Nikki Haley will hold a news conference in Columbia at 4 p.m. today at which, sources said, she will call for the Confederate flag to come down from the Statehouse grounds.

The move comes as lawmakers are exploring if the removal can be done legislatively in the coming days, tying their heightened attention to the recent shooting deaths of nine members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

Haley’s office would not confirm what the discussion would be.

Lawmakers have an unfinished budget, but are considering using the current extended session to address wording that would remove the flag from the Confederate monument as part of the 2015-16 state spending plan.

Another avenue being explored is adding wording that would include legislation to remove the flag in the continuing work resolution.

The flag was removed from the Statehouse dome and from inside the two chambers in 2000 as part of a compromise that put it on permanent display next the Confederate soldier’s monument. It would take a vote of two-thirds of both houses to remove it as the law was written.

House Speaker Jay Lucas issued a statement today saying “the intense and difficult debate that took place in 2000 over the Confederate soldier flag was ultimately resolved by compromise. Wednesday’s unspeakable tragedy has reignited a discussion on this sensitive issue that holds a long and complicated history in the Palmetto State. Moving South Carolina forward from this terrible tragedy requires a swift resolution of this issue.”

His message did not specify a targeted resolution or path.

The Statehouse regular session closed June 4 but matters have lingered into a limited session to pass a budget compromise.

CNN is also reporting that Senator Lindsey Graham will join in Haley’s call, changing the position he iterated last week:

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham will call Monday for the removal of the confederate flag from state grounds, a source familiar with the decision told CNN.

Graham, a 2016 presidential candidate, will make his announcement during a press conference with South Carolina’s Republican governor, Nikki Haley, at 4 p.m. Monday.

He will call for the flag to come down and be put in a museum.

Graham has been quietly urging his fellow elected representatives inside South Carolina over the past few days to make this move.

South Carolina’s Junior Senator has previously said that he would vote to take the flag down, but he’s also said that he would refrain from speaking publicly on the matter until after the funerals for the victims of the Charleston murders out of respect for the families. Given the speed with which the issue has moved, that no longer seems possible and there is apparently some possibility that Senator Scott will be with Governor Haley for her press conference later today. (Update: The Post & Courier is now reporting that Senator Scott will be joining Haley and Graham in calling for the flag to be removed.)

As a practical matter, there are apparently some technicalities that the legislature would have to get beyond in order to consider legislation to deal with this issue in the special session that starts tomorrow. However, with the weight of the three most powerful statewide elected officials behind the idea of taking the flag down, and the eyes of the nation on the Palmetto State in the wake of the attack in Charleston, the outcome seems to be inevitable.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Race and Politics, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    About time.

  2. CSK says:

    Already they’re being condemned as spineless traitors. Which is ironic, given that the flag in question could be construed as an emblem of treason.

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    Graham is safe and Haley is term limited. I suspect the bigots will prevail.

  4. stonetools says:

    Good. Seems like we might be at the end of a long process that started when South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union on December 20, 1860. Welcome back to the Union and 2015, South Carolina.

  5. CSK says:

    There’s another issue here that hasn’t received much attention. The flag of the United States and the flag of South Carolina flying over the capital have been lowered to half-mast to honor the dead, as they well should be.

    BUT–the battle flag is padlocked in place so it can’t be lowered, even to acknowledge the victims of the guy who waved it. This really strikes me as beyond outrageous.

  6. C. Clavin says:

    Let’s keep in mnd that they have been in full support of the Confederate Flag until now. So it only took 9 dead people in a church for them to try and pretend not to be racists.

  7. Scott says:

    @CSK: Of course, this is a violation of US Flag Code. US flag should always be higher of state or local flags.

  8. David M says:

    Kudos to Scott, Graham and Haley for doing the right thing.

  9. gVOR08 says:

    @Scott: Also, aren’t you supposed to tke them down at night and in the rain? Even if they can’t lower it, there has to be some provision for replacing a tattered flag, so declare this one damaged, get it down, and don’t replace it.

  10. gVOR08 says:

    Man, for Lindsey Graham to show some spine and oppose the rednecks, they must be catching so much heat…

  11. CSK says:


    They already think he’s a Commie liberal progressive. This just confirms it for them.

  12. Scott says:

    @gVOR08: There are a lot of rules, most of which are ignored and regularly violated. Since the flag code is not enforceable, it really just has the force of etiquette and good taste.

  13. C. Clavin says:

    @Jeb Jr:
    Wow…just, wow.
    That there is the best comment I’ve seen in some time.

  14. CSK says:

    @Jeb Jr:

    I hope this is a really tasteless joke.

  15. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: I think it’s a Poe. The very fact that we can’t tell shows how common this sort of ranting is still unfortunately heard.

  16. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Well, as several of us have pointed out, in terms of the south:

    Celebrate the men and women of the south who helped create a new nation.
    Celebrate your rich contributions to American literature.
    Celebrate your rich contributions to American music.
    Celebrate your rich contributions to the visual arts.
    Celebrate your performers.
    The south may be justly proud of the above.
    Wave your state flag atop the state house.

    Put the flag that celebrates treason and slavery in a museum.

  17. James Joyner says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    Graham is safe and Haley is term limited.

    But Graham is running for president. I don’t think he’s got a chance—and don’t think I could support him because of his foreign policy—but it’s not a nothing move from his perspective.

    @CSK: I don’t think it’s customary to fly flags other than those of active governments at half staff.

  18. DeadMessenger says:

    Always a good idea to cave in to the demands of whiny, PC liberals. A flag did not cause this mass murder. A psychopathic drug abuser did.

  19. ernieyeball says:

    @DeadMessenger:..A racist psychopathic drug abuser with a gun did.

    Strive for accuracy.

  20. ernieyeball says:

    What a bunch of half assed heroes!
    Taking down the flag is the easy part.
    When Haley, Graham et al. announce that South Carolina is free of racists and their vile code I will consider that maybe they have done something.

  21. Facebones says:

    To quote Jon Stewart, taking down the flag is literally the least they can do.

    And they can’t even do that.