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An 8-foot fence was erected around the Robert E. Lee monument on Jan. 25, in Richmond, Va. Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled on Thursday that the state can remove a six-story-tall statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia.

Why it matters: The 130-year-old, 60-foot-tall statue will be the latest Confederate monument to come down. Proponents of its removal say such statues pay deference to America's legacy of slavery and racism.

Driving the news: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said in June 2020 that he planned to take down the statue, but lawsuits from five area residents and an heir to the family that initially granted the land for the monument temporarily blocked its removal, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

  • The justices on Thursday argued that the lawsuits opposing its removal were contrary to policy established by Virginia's General Assembly, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
  • They also wrote that the descendant "has no property right, related to the Lee Monument, to enforce against the Commonwealth."

What they're saying: "The Commonwealth has the power to cease from engaging in a form of government speech when the message conveyed by the expression changes into a message that the Commonwealth does not support even if some members of the citizenry disagree," the justices wrote.

  • "Ultimately, the check on the Commonwealth’s government speech must be the electoral process, not the contrary beliefs of a portion of the citizenry, or of a nineteenth-century governor and legislature."

The big picture: Thursday's court decision comes as the movement to remove statues of Confederate leaders is gaining traction following the racial justice protests that erupted last year after the death of George Floyd.

Go deeper: Confederate statue removed in Charlottesville, Virginia

Go deeper

Reading the fundraising tea leaves in Virginia

Terry McAuliffe (left) and Glenn Youngkin speak during a debate last month. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Democrat Terry McAuliffe may be trouncing Glenn Youngkin in fundraising, but when it comes to dollars from donors in Virginia — the state where they're battling to become governor — the Republican has the edge.

Why it matters: With tight polls between the two gubernatorial candidates less than two weeks before Election Day, the parties are also looking to fundraising as a predictor of success.

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause (R), chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality, or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.

4 hours ago - World

Iran agrees to resume Vienna nuclear talks in November

Ali Bagheri (R) with Enrique Mora in Tehran on Oct. 14. Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry handout via Getty

Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator said following a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Iran would resume negotiations in Vienna before the end of November, with the exact date to be set next week.

Why it matters: The Vienna talks have been frozen since Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June. This is the most direct commitment from Raisi's government to return to the negotiating table.