A Superior Court judge has dismissed the Sons of Confederate Veterans lawsuit over the “Silent Sam” Confederate monument at UNC-Chapel Hill, bringing to a conclusion the latest chapter in a decades-long controversy over the statue.
In an order filed Friday, Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour said the court is satisfied that the statue has been returned to UNC by the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization along with the the $2.5 million that was part of the settlement — or the portion the organization did not spend before the judge scrapped the original settlement between UNC and the SCV.
Nearly $90,000 was ultimately found to have been spent on legal costs and administration of the trust set up as part of the settlement. The Sons of Confederate Veterans will not have to return that money, Baddour said last month.
Elizabeth Haddix, attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said it was “regrettable” that the organization did not have to return the money it spent on a lawsuit the court ultimately found to be without merit.
Haddix’s organization represented a group of students and one professor at UNC-Chapel Hill who sought to legally intervene in the case. Though Baddour did not allow them to enter the case, he did allow them to prepare an amicus brief on the question of whether the Sons of Confederate Veterans had standing.
That action led to a movement to overturn the settlement that came to include 88 prominent UNC alumni filing their own amicus brief in the case. Among them were 14 members of the UNC Black Pioneers, a group of students who broke the color barrier at UNC-Chapel Hill between 1952 and 1972.
“Our clients are focusing on their exams this week, but will be issuing a statement in the coming weeks,” Haddix said. “As their lawyers and as alumni of UNC Law ourselves, we are glad that, thanks to our clients and the distinguished alumni who joined as amici, we are celebrating the victory that this fictitious and collusive lawsuit has finally been dismissed and that most of the $2.5 million has been returned to the University.”
“It is regrettable that even after the court determined that the lawsuit was groundless, the UNC Board of Governors supported paying $89,000 — money that could be used right now to support students and faculty during these difficult times — for lawyers that collaborated to benefit the Sons of Confederate Veterans and their white supremacist mission,” Haddix said.
Though the statue has been returned to the custody of UNC-Chapel Hill, the school’s chancellor has joined the UNC System Interim President and the chairman of the UNC Board of Governors in saying the monument should not and will not be re-erected on the campus.