Monuments are preserved in order to remember, educate the public on, and acknowledge the monuments’ historical significance. Maryland’s monuments are designated by two authorities: the Board of the Maryland Historical Trust and smaller municipal commissions.1 The Board examines local monuments to be submitted to the national registry, whereas the smaller commissions are appointed and operate to preserve local Baltimore monuments.2 On June 30, 2015, Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced the creation of a Special Commission to review all Baltimore City Confederate historical monuments.3
The Commission’s appointment stems from a recently heightened national awareness of racism embedded in government culture. In the past year, racial tensions have increased between African-American citizens and the government through both physical violence and symbolic messages. Following a United States Supreme Court ruling on governmental issuance of license plates bearing the Confederate flag, Maryland and other states faced the challenge of Confederate symbols in their own communities.4 Maryland faces a unique challenge of balancing state-protected historical monuments, the citizens’ interest in them, and whether the present societal culture demands the removal of some, if not all of Baltimore City’s Confederate monuments.
This comment will address whether the mayor of Baltimore City and a specially elected city commission may legally authorize the removal of historically protected Confederate monuments when removal constitutes deprivation of a property interest.5 The citizens satisfy enacted state criteria in order to be beneficiaries of historical and educational monument preservation, creating a legitimate claim to the continued receipt of those acknowledged benefits.6 This comment will also address whether Baltimore City and the Special Commission’s actions have complied with procedural due process protections afforded to citizens’ property interests.7
Following six months of investigation, the Commission recommended in January 2016 that the Roger B. Taney Monument and the Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson Monuments be removed. 8 The Commission must prepare an official report for Mayor Rawlings-Blake, who will have the final say on the monuments’ fates.9 Although the report is slated for release in early spring, as of March 11, 2016, nothing has been published.10
"Baltimore's Monumental Question: Can the Heightened Social Conscience Against the Confederacy Rewrite the Constitutional Right to Due Process?,"
University of Baltimore Journal of Land and Development: Vol. 5
, Article 3.
Available at: https://scholarworks.law.ubalt.edu/ubjld/vol5/iss2/3