If you unplugged yourself from the world completely on Friday, you might have missed this completely expected development involving the UNC Center for Civil Rights.
After months of controversy and widespread opposition, the UNC Board of Governors on Friday approved a ban on litigation that will prevent the UNC Center for Civil Rights from doing legal work for low-income and minority groups.
The ban would apply to all UNC centers, but would effectively end the civil rights center at UNC’s law school. The future of the center is unclear; its work could continue if it becomes a separate nonprofit group or a legal clinic at UNC. The center is currently funded with private donations.
UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt, meanwhile, is “disappointed” in the Board of Governors’ decision and says she’ll work to figure out how to keep some version of the center going without violating the litigation ban.
So what is the new direction for the center? It could keep on keepin’ on — just without the ability to sue. Or the law school could spin off the center into a legal clinic, which is something that a lot of other law schools do. But as center director Ted Shaw noted in the IHE piece:
Rolling the center into a legal clinic, for example, so it would be exempt from the litigation ban, would mean fundamentally reorganizing — and possibly losing — its curriculum and operations.
Complicating whatever UNC-CH decides to do is this footnote that the Inside Higher Ed piece also notes: The legislature cut the law school’s budget by half a million dollars this year after threatening to slash it by $4 million.
I am not a lawyer, but that’s the kind of play that in the private sector might get you sued. If only there was someone to file that lawsuit.
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