Law Schools

Conservatives seek to stop law school's civil rights center from filing lawsuits

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University of North Carolina School of Law

University of North Carolina School of Law. Photo by By Caroline Culler, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina’s law school will be barred from filing lawsuits if conservatives on the university’s policy-making board get their way.

Conservatives say lawsuits depart from the university’s educational mission, but former law dean Gene Nichol sees another motivation, The Associated Press reports. He tells the wire service in an email that the proposal is “strictly, certainly and undoubtedly ideological.”

Nichol, who remains a law professor at the school, had headed the university’s Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity before it was shut down about two years ago by the university’s board of governors. About two dozen other centers were also shut down.

Board member Steve Long denies an ideological motivation.

“Free enterprise, civil rights, protection of children’s rights—whatever the cause it doesn’t matter. Are you going to stay on mission as an educational institution or not?” he told the AP.

The issue isn’t money, however. The center is funded with grants, foundation money and donations. It was founded in 2001 by civil-rights lawyer Julius Chambers, who died in 2013.

Related op-ed:

News & Observer: “Julius Chambers warned that conservatives would oppose UNC’s Civil Rights Center”

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