Group sues U. of Texas over removal of Confederate statues

A group called the Sons of Confederate Veterans has filed a lawsuit against the University of Texas and its president over the recent removal of statues honoring three Confederate leaders and a former governor of Texas.

The group’s Texas chapter argues that UT President Greg Fenves’ ordered the four statues removed Sunday night in violation of the group’s rights, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The removal of the statues from the school’s Austin campus came one week after the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., where plans were made to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

The Texas chapter of SCV previously sued the university in 2015 over the removal of a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, the Morning News reported.

This time, however, the group is receiving help from a descendant of George Littlefield, a former UT regent and Confederate veteran whom the group claims paid for the four statues before he died in 1920. 

The group argues that the statues were worth about $250,000 combined when Littlefield commissioned them, and could be worth a combined $3 million today.

“The statues were part of a bequest Maj. Littlefield made to the university that included funds for the promotion of American history from the Southern perspective,” the lawsuit states. 

"The statues were part of a bequest Maj. Littlefield made to the university that included funds for the promotion of American history from the Southern perspective.”

- Lawsuit filed by Sons of Confederate Veterans, Texas chapter

The suit also alleges that Fenves ordered the statues removed without first seeking public input.

But Patti Ohlendorf, UT’s chief lawyer, told the Austin American-Statesman that Fenves spoke with several people before ordering the statues removed. His decision was legally sound, she said.

The statues that Fenves ordered removed were of Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston, Confederate Postmaster John H. Reagan, and James Stephen Hogg, the first native-born governor of Texas.