Fact Check

Obama Bans Confederate Flag Through Executive Order

A story that President Obama signed an executive order banning the possession and sale of Confederate flags was a hoax.

Published Jun 25, 2015

President Obama has signed an executive order banning the possession and sale of Confederate flags.

On June 2015, the blog Real News, Right Now published an article (later picked up by the equally unreliable DC Gazette) reporting that President Obama signed an executive order banning all Confederate flags and memorabilia:

Obama Signs Executive Order Banning Confederate Flags, Memorabilia

During a White House-hosted dinner celebrating the Islamic holy month of Ramadan Monday evening, President Obama, flanked by select cabinet members, announced he has signed into law an executive order banning the manufacturing, distribution, and possession of Confederate flags and other memorabilia.

Also included in the executive order is an amendment to 18 U.S. Code 249, allowing for any “individual or entity found to be in violation of the law” to be prosecuted under the federal hate crimes statute. Under federal law, the punishment carries a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years. “In light of recent events, I’m inclined to believe a ten-year sentence is far too lenient,” Al Sharpton told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer today. Blitzer, who agreed with Sharpton, said many in Washington have echoed similar sentiment.

Under orders from the White House, the Department of Justice, while working in conjunction with local and state law enforcement agencies, will, in the coming weeks, launch a nationwide operation to halt manufacturing and distribution of the soon-to-be-illegal contraband.

Simply put, there's no truth to the claim that President Obama has outlawed the sale or ownership of Confederate flags or other items bearing an image of such. This is nothing more than a fake news item: the President did not issue any such executive order, nor did he amend the U.S. Code (by any means) to expand the definition of hate crimes to include possession of Confederate flags. And neither Wolf Blitzer nor Al Sharpton commented upon such an imaginary happenstance.

Real News, Right Now has appeared on the pages of snopes.com before as a purveyor of fake news via a web site that carries no disclaimer. Their fictitious article about a ban on Confederate flags and memorabilia was just one of at least three prominent Confederate flag-related items  to circulate widely in the same 24-hour stretch, along with one about Amazon's ousting Confederate flag merchandise from their site but allowing ISIS flags to remain, and one about the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign (and the 2012 Obama campaign) issuing pins bearing the controversial ensign.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.