A lawsuit seeking to stop Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's plan to remove a large, historic statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond should be dismissed, the state's attorney general argued in a court filing Tuesday.
Attorney General Mark Herring also filed a brief opposing the plaintiff's motion to extend an existing 10-day injunction preventing the statue's removal.
The lawsuit was filed against Northam by William C. Gregory, who is described as a descendant of two signatories to a 1890 deed that transferred the statue, pedestal and ground they sit on to the state. The lawsuit argues the state agreed to “faithfully guard” and “affectionately protect” them.
The state's brief argues the deed does not prevent the governor from removing the statue and does not entitle Gregory to injunctive relief.
“The only question is whether a single plaintiff may call upon the equitable powers of this Court and use 130-year-old documents and inapplicable doctrines of property law to countermand the Governor’s decision. He cannot,” the brief said.
A hearing in the case is scheduled for Thursday.