- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 7, 2006

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge was asked last week to temporarily lift a ban on the Confederate battle flag at a high school where students are suing to wear it as a symbol of Southern pride.

Students Derek Barr, Chris Nicole White and Roger Craig White and their parents have taken the Blount County school system to court claiming their rights to free speech have been denied by the ban on the Confederate symbol at William Blount High School.

U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan heard arguments Thursday from four attorneys for the county and two for the plaintiffs on whether to lift the ban pending a full trial.

“I will take this under advisement,” Judge Varlan said after a half-hour hearing. He said he would issue a decision “in due course” and refused to “give a timeline.”

The Black Mountain, N.C.-based Southern Legal Resource Center and the Tennessee Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans are supporting the lawsuit.

The 1,750-student high school is nearly 90 percent white and has a “history of racially motivated violence,” school attorney Rob Goddard said. Sheriff’s deputies put the school under lockdown last year after racial tensions flared.

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