The Alabama Supreme Court upheld a state law protecting Confederate monuments on Wednesday, ordering the city of Birmingham to remove panels it had placed in front of one.
The all-Republican court ruled in favor of the state, which had sued the majority-black city for placing plywood panels that blocked the inscriptions on a 52-foot tall obelisk for Confederate veterans, ABC News reported. The justices reversed a circuit judge’s ruling striking down the law and ordered the judge to fine the city $25,000.
The Jefferson County Circuit Court judge had decided in January that the Alabama law outlawing relocating, removing, changing or renaming buildings, streets and memorials that have been standing for more than 40 years violated free speech rights.
A spokesman for the city said in a statement that they are “strongly disappointed” with the decision and are discussing next steps.
“This ruling appears to be less about the rule of law and more about politics,” Rick Journey, director of communications in Birmingham’s office of public information said in a statement obtained by ABC News.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, who had called for the repeal of the circuit judge’s decision, said the state supreme court made the “correct conclusion.”
“The Supreme Court’s ruling is a victory for the Alabama law which seeks to protect historical monuments,” Marshall said in a statement. “The City of Birmingham acted unlawfully when it erected barriers to obstruct the view of the 114-year-old Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Linn Park.”