Trump-Appointed Judge Halts Removal Of Confederate Monument At Arlington Cemetery

(U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery / released)

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
Font Size:

A Trump-appointed federal judge has temporarily halted removal proceedings for the Confederate memorial at Arlington National Cemetery that began Monday, the Associated Press reported.

Defend Arlington filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, on Sunday for a temporary restraining order, the AP reported. Work had already begun to remove the bronze elements of the memorial in accordance with recommendations in the Congressionally-mandated Naming Commission’s final report to scrub Department of Defense (DOD) assets of any symbolism that could be seen to honor the Confederacy.

A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, according to the AP. The memorial has not been dismantled.

“The Army began disassembly of the monument atop the Confederate Memorial prior to the court issuing the temporary restraining order. The Army is complying with the restraining order and has ceased the work begun this morning,” a spokesperson for the cemetery told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Earlier on Monday, the Arlington Cemetery spokesperson Rebecca Wardwell said that “safety fencing was installed around the Memorial yesterday, Dec. 17 and the deliberate deconstruction process is currently underway.”

The Army previously said it anticipated the removal process to take place over four days.

Defend Arlington sued the Army and the Department of Defense (DOD) in a district court in February to halt the removal. The district judge dismissed the case on Dec. 12. (RELATED: Former Senator Makes Plea To Save Arlington Cemetery’s Confederate Monument)

The cemetery claims removing the memorial is required by Congress and that doing so will comply with environmental regulations and leave the 400 Confederate graves encircling the monument undisturbed, according to the AP. However, Defend Arlington’s lawsuit argues the Army unlawfully bypassed certain regulations.

“The removal will desecrate, damage, and likely destroy the Memorial longstanding at ANC as a grave marker and impede the Memorial’s eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places,” the lawsuit states, according to the AP.

U.S. District Judge Rossie Alston, who issued the restraining order, said the parties should be prepared to discuss Defend Arlington’s prior, dismissed case at the court date, saying it could affect his decision whether or not to extend the stay beyond Wednesday, the AP reported.

Confederate Memorial in Section 16 of Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, July 13, 2020.

Confederate Memorial in Section 16 of Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, July 13, 2020. (U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery / released)

Alston wrote that he “takes very seriously the representations of officers of the Court and should the representations in this case be untrue or exaggerated the Court may take appropriate sanctions,” AP reported.

The new lawsuit differs from the previous one in that the plaintiffs now have concrete evidence the removal efforts are disturbing the graves, David McCallister, a spokesperson for the advocacy group Save Southern Heritage Florida, told the AP.

“The Memorial represents a symbol of reconciliation aimed at healing a country divided during a brutal sectional war and reconstruction,” Defend Arlington wrote in the prior lawsuit.

Congress created the Naming Commission in 2021, which was tasked with identifying and removing names, bases and other DOD assets honoring the Confederate States of America. The final report recommended removing the bronze upper and leaving the granite base intact to avoid disturbing graves. (RELATED: ‘Covers Up History’: Retired Army Rangers Hammer The Pentagon For Purging Confederates From The Ranger Memorial)

“The elaborately designed monument offers a nostalgic, mythologized vision of the Confederacy, including highly sanitized depictions of slavery,” Arlington National Cemetery’s web page reads.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact