Mr. McQuerry said Mrs. Jackson Lee would like to see the DMV board either vote down the application or remove it from the agenda. The board was deadlocked on the issue at its April meeting, voting 4-4 on the application with one member absent.
Before a second vote could be held with all nine members, however, one board member died. Mr. Perry appointed a successor in August. The earliest a second vote could take place is the board’s Nov. 10 meeting.
This isn’t the first time Mr. Perry has weighed in on historic symbols of the state’s Confederate past. In 2000, Mr. Perry opposed an NAACP campaign to remove a plaque depicting the Confederate battle flag from the entryway to the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.
“[A]lthough this is an emotional issue, I want you to know that I oppose efforts to remove Confederate monuments, plaques and memorials from public property,” said Mr. Perry, then lieutenant governor, in a letter to the Sons of Confederate Veterans obtained by the Associated Press.
At the same time, he added, “We should never forget our history, but dwelling on the 19th century takes needed attention away from our future in the 21st century.”
Texas has approved 276 vanity plates, mainly for sports teams, colleges and nonprofit organizations. The board has never rejected a license-plate request from a nonprofit that met the requirements of the application process, said state DMV spokeswoman Kim Perkes.
“I’m not saying it’s our right to have our logo on a license plate,” said Mr. Block. “I’m saying it’s our right to have our logo on a license plate if everybody else does.”
The Sons of Confederate Veterans knows a thing or two about license-plate challenges. Three states - Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia - originally rejected similar specialty-plate applications but were later forced to issue them after the courts sided with the organization.
“They’ve always upheld our freedom of speech,” said Ben Sewell, executive director of the Columbia, Tenn.-based group.
Mr. Sewell said nine states now offer the license plates that depict the organization’s logo, a square battle flag crisscrossed with the stars-and-bars design seen on the Confederate flag. Surrounding the flag are the words “Sons of Confederate Veterans 1896.”
The license-plate application was sponsored by the Texas General Land Office, headed by Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a Sons of Confederate Veterans member. The application cost $8,000, which the group can recoup after 1,900 of the specialty plates are sold or renewed.
The newest member of the DMV board, El Paso auto dealer Raymond Palacios Jr., has not said how he plans to vote on the application. Neither has New Braunfels truck dealer Marvin Rush, the board member who missed the first vote in April.