Blog Archive: 2015

2015 UNC Center for Civil Rights Year in Review

As we approach the end of 2015, I have been reflecting on the events of the last year and a half, and the work of The Center for Civil Rights.  Since coming to UNC in June of 2014, I have been immersed in the history and the contemporary workings of North Carolina. As an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund for twenty-five years, and the Justice Department before that, I litigated civil rights cases all over the South, including North Carolina.  I have deep family roots in the state, including relatives known and unknown. Yet, it is one thing to know a place from a distance and even to spend time there, and quite another to live here.
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Posted by Theodore M. Shaw (Ted) on Mon. December 21, 2015 10:34 AM
Categories: General

Pretrial Hearing in Halifax County Sound Basic Education Suit

On Tuesday, December 22, in Halifax, NC, Judge Russell Duke will hear a number of pretrial motions from the Halifax County Board of Commissioners, including a motion to dismiss, in Silver et al. v. Halifax County Board of Commissioners.  The hearing will be the first to address substantive issues since the Coalition for Education and Economic Security (CEES), the Halifax County Branch of the NAACP, and three parents and guardians filed suit against the Board of Commissioners in August, to vindicate the state constitutional right of all Halifax County children to the opportunity for a sound basic education.  Read the Plaintiffs’ brief in opposition to the Board of Commissioners’ motions.

Earlier this month, Judge Duke denied eight of nine motions to have out-of-state attorneys from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Latham & Watkins LLP join the Center for Civil Rights in representing the Plaintiffs.

Center attorneys Mark Dorosin and Elizabeth Haddix, as well as Eileen O’Connor from Lawyers’ Committee, will represent the Plaintiffs at Tuesday’s hearing.

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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Fri. December 18, 2015 4:46 PM
Categories: Education, Halifax County

Addressing Trump's Remarks on the Exclusion of Muslims

Statement of Theodore M. Shaw, Julius L. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Civil Rights Regarding Donald Trump’s Position on the Exclusion of Muslims

The Center for Civil Rights does not take positions on partisan political matters. Political neutrality, however, does not require that we stand mute in the face of discriminatory statements and actions that marginalize individuals on the basis of race, gender, religious belief, sexual orientation, disability, age, or any other protected classification. This is especially true for the Center for Civil Rights, which has as its mission the protection of individuals against unlawful discrimination and the advocacy of civil and human rights.

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Posted by Theodore M. Shaw (Ted) on Wed. December 9, 2015 9:29 AM
Categories: General, Race Discrimination

Eugenics Compensation "No Record" Case Argued at the NC Court of Appeals

On Monday, November 30, the North Carolina Court of Appeals heard argument in one of eighteen remaining eugenics compensation appeals, which can be divided into two groups.  The first, argued by the Center’s Elizabeth Haddix and pro bono team member Ed Pressly on November 16, challenged the restitution program’s exclusion of eugenics victims who died before June 30, 2013 under the state constitution’s equal protection guarantee.  The second consists of the “no record” appeals, which seek to vindicate the rights of victims who were sterilized by the State, but have no records to confirm they were sterilized under the authority of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina.

Bob Bollinger, a leading member of the Center’s pro bono team in Charlotte, represents four eugenics clients in their no records appeals and argued on behalf of one sterilization victim on Monday.  Read Mr. Bollinger's brief here and the State's brief here.

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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Thu. December 3, 2015 11:47 AM
Categories: Pro Bono, Sterilization

Mass Incarceration: A Civil Rights Crisis

The United States has merely 5% of the world’s population, yet nearly 25% of the world’s prisoners.

North Carolina Advocates for Justice hosted a conference in October 2015, presented by the North Carolina Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities (NC-CRED), titled “Understanding Mass Incarceration.”

The presentations highlighted the serious problems that remain deeply imbedded in the American criminal “justice” system; one presenter went as far as saying that he never referred to it as the criminal justice system, and instead opted for the more realistic phrase, “criminal legal system.” The problem of mass incarceration was referred to as a civil rights crisis, as it negatively affects access to housing, employment, voting, and education.

Blog by: Maria Lopez Delgado, 3L, UNC School of Law

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Posted by Jennifer Watson Marsh on Fri. November 20, 2015 2:34 PM
Categories: Community Inclusion, Criminal Justice, Law Students, Race Discrimination

Harnett County Coalition Files Civil Rights Complaint with the US Department of Education Over Racial Isolation in Schools

On November 17, nearly one hundred Harnett County residents gathered in front of the Harnett County Schools administrative building in Lillington to hear Citizens for Harnett Educational Fairness (CHEF) spokesman John Smith announce the filing of a Title VI complaint with the U.S. Department of Education.  The complaint, filed by the Center for Civil Rights on behalf of CHEF and the Harnett County branch of the NAACP, seeks redress for the Harnett County Board of Education’s refusal to address increasing racial isolation in Dunn area schools and the accompanying discriminatory impacts this isolation has on African American students’ access to equal educational resources.
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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Thu. November 19, 2015 10:39 AM
Categories: Education, Segregation

Eugenics Compensation Case Argued at the NC Court of Appeals

Eugenics victim with attorneys
Following the November 16, 2015 Court of Appeals argument, Elizabeth Haddix, pro bono Statesville attorney Ed Pressly, and Mark Dorosin talk with one of their clients, whose mother was forcibly sterilized by the state.  Watch Attorney Elizabeth Haddix's oral argument.

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Posted by Elizabeth M. Haddix on Tue. November 17, 2015 3:19 PM
Categories: Sterilization

Oral Argument in Eugenics Compensation Cases

The state of North Carolina forcibly sterilized more than 7,600 people through its over 40- year long eugenics program that did not end until the mid-1970s. On October 16, 2015, the Court of Appeals will hear the consolidated cases of three victims whom the State excluded from the compensation program because they died before June 30, 2013.

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Posted by Mark Dorosin on Thu. November 12, 2015 8:55 AM
Categories: Pro Bono, Race Discrimination, Sterilization

A New Brief Filed in Eugenics Appeal Cases

As discussed in an earlier post, the Center represents heirs of just a few of the thousands of victims of North Carolina's Eugenics policy in three appeals challenging the Eugenics Compensation Program's arbitrary exclusion of victims who died before June 30, 2013. These appeals all challenge the "living victim threshold" as a violation of equal protection under our state constitution. The Center is co-counseling on two of the cases with pro bono counsel Ed Pressly of Pressly, Thomas & Conley, PA of Statesville, NC. Ed Pressly recently submitted a new brief (PDF) to the NC Court of Appeals regarding the exclusion of a victim who died prior to 2013.

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Posted by Elizabeth M. Haddix on Fri. September 25, 2015 12:09 PM
Categories: Segregation

EPA Examines Swine Waste in Duplin County

In September 2014, the NC Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN), the Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help (“REACH”) and the Waterkeepers Alliance filed a race discrimination administrative complaint (PDF) against the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) with the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Civil Rights. The EPA accepted jurisdiction (PDF) of the complaint in early February 2015. The complaint alleges that DENR’s general permit allows industrial swine facilities in North Carolina to operate with grossly inadequate and outdated systems of controlling animal waste and little provision for government oversight, which has an unjustified disproportionate impact on the basis of race and national origin against African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the EPA’s implementing regulations. The Center for Civil Rights is co-counseling with Earthjustice (New York) on the case.

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Posted by Elizabeth M. Haddix on Fri. September 11, 2015 3:22 PM
Categories: Environmental Justice
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