by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
This week, Carolina Journal’s Lindsay Marchello and Rick Henderson wrote a piece on the potential impacts of the recent settlement regarding a Confederate statue. The UNC Board of Governors announced Wednesday, Nov. 26, that it reached an agreement with the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) to transfer Silent Sam, which once stood in McCorkle Place in Chapel Hill, to SCV along with a $2.5 million trust fund for the “preservation and benefit” of the monument. The story reports,
Durham attorney Greg Doucette, a former non-voting student member of the BOG, said the settlement may not set a legal precedent. But it could serve as a template for future showdowns over the monuments.
“In practice, I have no doubt the SCV and [United Daughters of the Confederacy] will use this judgment as leverage to extort taxpayer funds in the future,” said Doucette, an alumnus of N.C. State University and NCCU School of Law. “Municipal governments are notoriously gun-shy when it comes to litigation, and will be more inclined to settle than to litigate.”
The legality of it all is in question, as the deal appears to conflict with a law dealing with the relocation of government monuments. The story explains,
The removal violated a 2015 law requiring the N.C. Historical Commission to approve relocation of any historical markers on monuments on public property. They can be removed temporarily for repair or renovation, or moved to another location on the original property if it has “similar prominence, honor, visibility, availability, and access.” But monuments can’t be taken down without the commission’s backing.
The story reads,
Another attorney familiar with the situation suggested the settlement could be challenged or enjoined in court, citing the secrecy and timing of the negotiations. He said Silent Sam should have been returned to its original site, as the 2015 monument protection law requires.
Only time will tell if the Silent Sam settlement will impact future monument decisions.