Defending the UNC Center for Civil Rights

Trying to clip the wings of the legal eagles:

Ahead of a vote this week that she says would effectively close the UNC Law School’s Center of Civil Rights, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt has sent a letter requesting the UNC Board of Governors not adopt a proposed policy change. In a July 28 letter, Folt says the move by the BOG would lead to a closure of the center and harm the school’s reputation. The five page letter is Folt’s strongest statement yet on the fate of the center.

“. . . if the committee moves forward with the new proposed policy, we risk significant damage to the reputation of the University and the Law School, as well as the uncertainty as to whether we can create a new clinic for civil rights with no resources.”

Follow the link and read Carol Folt's letter, and once again hat-tip to Kirk Ross for his diligence. This answered a question that's been in the back of my mind: "Why don't Republicans just cut off the funding for the Center if they don't like it?" It's because there is no state funding, taxpayers aren't spending a dime for this critical service. So the GOP is forced to take other measures, which will not only undermine the important work being done, it goes against the wishes of the charitable donors who have supported the Center. If you want to know the "why" behind this move, look at some of the cases litigated:

Leandro v. State: The center intervened on behalf of African-American students suing Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools over an inadequate allocation of resources. CMS and the state entered into a consent order on a school turnaround plan.

Gary et al. v. Halifax County: A primarily white city annexed a black community as part of an entertainment district without any notice to residents, then levied additional taxes, forcing some residents out. The center helped the community de-annex and recovered tens of thousands of dollars in property taxes for residents.

Everett et al. v. Pitt County Board of Education: Working with the Pitt County Coalition for the Education of Black Children, the center has been seeking to integrate schools in Pitt County for a decade. In 2008, it sued; a settlement in 2009 held that federal desegregation orders were still applicable. In 2010, the school board passed a new school-reassignment plan; the center sued again, but this time it lost in the Court of Appeals.

Johnson v. Fleming: The center filed a fair housing lawsuit on behalf of the Johnson family against a landlord, real estate agent, and real estate company in Moore County that refused to rent to the Johnsons because of their race. The lawsuit was settled in the Johnsons' favor.

Just that first case (Leandro) alone would be enough to put this Center in the cross-hairs of GOP lawmakers. It's been a thorn in their side and a frequent punching bag for groups like Civitas for years, and it's safe to say our education system would be in a lot worse shape if that case had never been litigated.

But it isn't just revenge that drives the GOP to go after Julius Chambers' legacy, it's their core belief that if you can obtain the political power to do something, you have also earned the right and authority to do that thing, regardless of its Constitutionality or whether it conflicts with other previous Statutes. They hate being challenged in the courts, because it exposes their arrogance and ignorance at the same time. And each time they lose, it narrows their options for future abuses of power. That's it, in a nutshell. It's all about power, and their ability to keep it. And that makes preserving the Civil Rights Center even more important, for those who actually believe in democracy.

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Committee votes to stop litigation

Hopefully the full Board will reject this, but I'm tired of getting my hopes up just so they can be dashed.