The Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. Three white South Carolinians sued Tuesday to have the Confederate battle flag removed from atop the Statehouse.

The federal court lawsuit claims the flag has no legal authority to fly above the Legislature and is racially divisive, said Gary White III, the plaintiffs' lawyer.

South Carolina is the only Statehouse that continues to fly the battle flag, with its blue X and white stars on a red background. Mississippi and Georgia incorporate part of the banner in their state flags.

The Confederate flag was taken down from the Alabama Statehouse after a successful lawsuit.

The flag's opponents say it is racially divisive and an improper reminder of slavery. It's defenders say it is a proper part of Southern heritage.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also had threatened to sue after various compromise proposals stalled in the Legislature.

White and attorney Laura Valtorta said their clients Brett Bursey, Joseph Alley and Deborah Hinson wanted to file separately because they feel it shouldn't be the responsibility of blacks to get the flag taken down.

The lawsuit says that when the flag was raised above the Statehouse in 1962, it was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Confederacy and wasn't meant to remain permanently. The lawsuit noted that state Attorney General Travis Medlock has issued an opinion that the flag has no authority to fly at the Statehouse.

The lawsuit said the three plaintiffs respect the Southern heritage, but feel the flag is offensive to some and puts a chilling effect on their association with people from other ethnic backgrounds.

"It further impedes the commerce of the plaintiff with persons of different backgrounds and with persons from other states and regions of the United States," the lawsuit said. Read Next Article