On February 13, the NC Supreme Court heard oral argument in appeals brought on behalf of three individuals who were forcibly sterilized by the State under North Carolina's forty-year eugenics program. In 2015, the Industrial Commission denied their claims for compensation based solely on the fact that they died before June 30, 2013. The eugenics compensation program was established to "make restitution for the injustices suffered" by the State's violation of one of the most fundamental human rights--the right to privacy of one's body and to bear children. With the help of the UNC Center for Civil Rights and pro bono attorney Ed Pressley, the victims' heirs appealed to the Court of Appeals as required by the Eugenics Compensation Act and other statutory provisions, arguing that the arbitrary cutoff date violates their rights to equal protection under the North Carolina Constitution.
Read More... (NC Supreme Court Hears Argument on Eugenics Appeals)
Posted by Elizabeth M. Haddix on Wed. February 15, 2017 10:30 AM
Categories: Pro Bono, Sterilization
African American, Latino, and Native American residents of Eastern North Carolina are anxiously awaiting help from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in their decades-long struggle to resist the adverse impacts of confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) disproportionately concentrated in their communities. In September 2014, groups representing those residents, the Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help (REACH) and the NC Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN), joined with Waterkeeper Alliance in filing a complaint under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) with EPA’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The complaint alleges that DEQ’s permitting and oversight of swine CAFOs has a racially discriminatory impact on black, Latino and American Indian North Carolinians.
OCR began its investigation of the complaint in February 2015. This past October, 20 impacted residents traveled to Washington DC to deliver a petition signed by over 95,000 people from across the country urging EPA investigators to come to eastern North Carolina and see the impacts for themselves. The residents met with OCR and with staff of North Carolina legislators, told them about the unbearable stench and pollution from the open pits of hog waste and the fields where the waste is sprayed; the infestation of buzzards, flies and other disease vectors; and the broad range of other ways these operations damage their health and ruin their quality of life. In response, OCR investigators travelled to the state and observed firsthand the impacts on these communities in mid-November. Over the last two and a half years, the complainants, represented by the Center and Earthjustice, have provided OCR with reams of documents and data (including over a decade’s worth of scientific research led by recently deceased Dr. Steve Wing of UNC’s School of Public Health), as well as sworn declarations from many impacted residents, which support the complaint’s allegations.
The community members are pleading with EPA to make a finding of discrimination before the end of 2016.
Read More... (Communities Impacted by CAFOs Ask EPA to Make A Finding of Discrimination By Year’s End)
Posted by Elizabeth M. Haddix on Thu. December 1, 2016 12:40 PM
Categories: Environmental Justice, Race Discrimination
On September 10 and 11, 2016, Center staff attorney Elizabeth Haddix joined residents from Sampson, Duplin, Bladen and Pender counties who suffer the impacts from industrial pork and poultry operations concentrated in their communities at a national summit hosted by the Oneida Nation in Green Bay, WI entitled “Factory Farm Summit: Demanding Accountability in Agriculture.” The summit, which brought together farmers, residents, researchers and advocates from across the country, was organized by the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP), which works throughout the U.S. helping communities protect themselves from the negative impacts of factory farms, officially called Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).
Read More... (Center clients participate in Factory Farm Summit, Green Bay, WI)
Posted by Elizabeth M. Haddix on Fri. September 16, 2016 2:11 PM
Categories: Environmental Justice
On February 16, 2016, the North Carolina Court of Appeals issued an opinion
in the consolidated appeals of three victims of the state’s more than forty-year forced sterilization eugenics program. Those appeals challenged as unconstitutional the Eugenics Compensation Act’s requirement that a victim be alive on June 30, 2013, to be eligible for compensation. Compensation was meant to be “restitution” for the injustices suffered under the state’s eugenics policy, which left more than 7,600 people — disproportionately non-white women — unable to conceive or bear children. The appellants, through their counsel at the Center for Civil Rights and pro bono lawyer Ed Pressley of Statesville, argued that the State had no legitimate basis to deny restitution to a victim’s heirs because the victim died before June 30, 2013 while granting it to heirs of a victim alive on that day.
Read More... (NC Court of Appeals Rules in Eugenics Cases)
Posted by Elizabeth M. Haddix on Wed. February 17, 2016 1:00 PM
Categories: Race Discrimination, Sterilization
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 () to the NC Court of Appeals regarding the exclusion of a victim who died prior to 2013.
Read More... (A New Brief Filed in Eugenics Appeal Cases)
Posted by Elizabeth M. Haddix on Fri. September 25, 2015 12:09 PM
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 () 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 () 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.
Read More... (EPA Examines Swine Waste in Duplin County)
Posted by Elizabeth M. Haddix on Fri. September 11, 2015 3:22 PM
Categories: Environmental Justice
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. The Center recently submitted a brief () to the NC Court of Appeals regarding the exclusion of a victim who died prior to 2013.
Read More... (Center Assists Eugenics Victims in Struggle for Compensation)
Posted by Elizabeth M. Haddix on Fri. September 4, 2015 11:13 AM
By a 4-3 vote North Carolina’s Supreme Court overturned the ruling that the education voucher program, which sends public taxpayer dollars to private schools, is unconstitutional. In North Carolina, taxpayer support will now flow freely to schools that are not required to have trained or certified teachers, any identified or minimum curriculum, any accreditation, criminal background checks for employees, and that can discriminate on the basis of religion. Center submitted an amicus curiae brief arguing the program was unconstitutional because it increases segregation in public schools.
Read More... (NC Supreme Court Finds Segregating School Voucher Program Constitutional)
Posted by Elizabeth M. Haddix on Mon. July 27, 2015 2:06 PM
Categories: Amicus Curiae, Education, Segregation