Oral Argument in Eugenics Compensation Cases

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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. By the state’s own report, more than 40% of those sterilized were African American or Native American (who together comprised less than a quarter of the state’s population when the eugenics program was near its end in 1970), with the predominant victim group being African American women. Although the state issued an apology in 2001 and in 2013 passed a compensation program to “make restitution for injustices suffered and unreasonable hardships endured” by the state’s violation of this most fundamental human right, the question remains: how many of these victims will the State actually compensate?

On November 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. As discussed in earlier posts, the Center represents these clients in their Equal Protection challenge to this arbitrary “living victim threshold.” Read the Center's primary brief (PDF), the State’s brief (PDF), and the reply briefs (PDF) filed in two of the cases (PDF).

The living victim threshold further limits the already small number of victims and their heirs whose compensation claims were approved by the NC Industrial Commission: less than 225 claims were approved, and less than 20 of the more than 500 victims or heirs denied compensation appealed those denials.

Center attorney Elizabeth Haddix, together with pro bono co-counsel for two of the appellants, Ed Pressly of Statesville, NC, will present the oral argument before the Court of Appeals in Raleigh at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, November 16, 2015.

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