The late Julius Chambers, one of the greatest citizens North Carolina has ever produced, founded the Center for Civil Rights a little more than 15 years ago. As a long-time civil rights attorney engaged in some of the ground-breaking work of the 1960s (he’d later serve as chancellor of N.C. Central University), Chambers understood the value of having public-interest lawyers involved in noble causes.
And the center, based at UNC-Chapel Hill’s law school, has done good work, fighting for desegregation, equal opportunity in education and even standing up for a poor community involved in a battle over a landfill. The work is good, and its instructive for law students who join professors and other attorneys in working on important issues.
Unfortunately, some conservative members of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors want to prohibit the center from suing on behalf of clients. It’s a ridiculous notion, motivated by political ideology, and fortunately the law school has powerful allies who may be able to stop this foolish, purely political maneuver. It is set for a vote on Aug. 1.
The board ought to just table it permanently, and forget about it. The board has many other tasks before it without taking on something like this. Let board members focus on their educational, not their political agenda.