The court is allowing the state to begin the “complex” multi-day process of taking down the 12-ton statue, which is the last Confederate statue on Richmond’s historic Monument Avenue and has been at the center of intense national debate.
Gov. Ralph Northam’s office said Thursday that “no action on the statue is expected this week,” citing “several logistical and security concerns,” as well as street closures.
Another lawsuit brought by Virginia resident William C. Gregory, identified as the great-grandson of two parties and signatories to the 1890 deed, argued that removal of the statue also violates the deed, in which Virginia, having been transferred the land the statue sits on, agreed to “faithfully guard and affectionately protect it.” He claimed that as an heir, he has the legal right to compel Virginia to keep the Lee Monument where it is.
The state’s high court, however, found that Gregory “has no property right, related to the Lee Monument, to enforce against the Commonwealth,” and agreed with the lower court that he “failed to articulate a legally viable cause of action” against Northam.
Removal of the statue had been in limbo until the Supreme Court’s rulings on Thursday.
Northam hailed the rulings and said pulling down the statue would help move the state and Richmond “into a more inclusive, just future.”
“Today it is clear—the largest Confederate monument in the South is coming down,” Northam said in a statement Thursday.
A date for the removal will be announced at a later time, the department added.
Northam had previously said that the statue, once removed, would be put in storage while the department works with the community “to determine its future.”
CNN’s Devan Cole and Ryan Nobles contributed to this report.