Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Appeal Of Mississippi Flag Case

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a claim that the Mississippi flag contains a Christian symbol that represents state endorsement of a particular religion.

John Ellis Briggs, a Muslim who sought punitive damages of up to $77.77 million and a ruling to ban the flag from public display, was appealing lower court dismissals of his claim the flag's Confederate battle symbol included the St. Andrew's Cross.

On Monday, the high court refused without comment to hear the appeal.

Since 1894, Mississippi's flag has contained the Confederate battle emblem, a blue X with 13 whites stars over a field of red. Experts differ on whether the X in the Confederate battle emblem is the St. Andrew's Cross.

David Sansing, professor emeritus of history at the University of Mississippi, said recently that what people have claimed for years is the St. Andrew's Cross is not.

"What is in the Confederate battle flag is a blue saltier. The St. Andrew's Cross is a white diagonal cross on a blue field,'' Sansing said. "The man who designed the (Confederate battle) flag makes no reference to the St. Andrew's Cross.''

Sansing said the St. Andrew's Cross dates back to the Middle Ages and represents the X-shaped cross on which the apostle Andrew was crucified. Andrew was the patron saint of Scotland and the St. Andrew's Cross is Scotland's national flag.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)