These are sullen times in North Carolina. The twin webs of voter suppression and “at-will” employment are threatening to encircle the state and bring progress to a grinding halt..
Voter suppression at Elizabeth City State University, Winston-Salem State University. and Appalachian State University have earned our state a great deal of notoriety on the Rachel Maddow Show and in major newspapers throughout the region. As emotionally uplifting as they are, public protests alone are unlikely to bring about meaningful legal change.
“At–will” employment and abolition of tenure for public school teachers have become favorite weapons in Governor Pat Mcrory’s arsenal to strip state workers of their constitutionally protected rights of free expression. Obviously, the next step could be a return sovereign immunity, which protects the sovereign state against prosecution for constitutional violations. Remember, “The king can do no wrong.” In fact, North Carolina was protected by sovereign immunity for more than a century (1889–1992).
In addition to the considerable power of the governor’s office, both sides of the North Carolina legislature, many county and city governments, and all 100 county Boards of Election are under the control of the Republican Party. Apparently the following quotation, attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville and others, has a ring of truth in modern times: “In a democracy, the people get the kind of government they deserve.”
All is not lost, however. In a 1993 lawsuit that lasted for almost nine years, Corum v. University of North Carolina, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled, and the United States Supreme Court affirmed, the following statement: In the absence of an adequate state remedy, one whose state constitutional rights have been abridged has a direct claim against the State under our Constitution. This new legal defense is called the Corum claim. Clearly, there is still an avenue to achieve justice under the North Carolina Constitution. It seems worth mentioning that Corum has been used in several hundred lawsuits around the country.
The most significant statement in Corum v. University of North Carolina was made by Justice Harry martin, who wrote the opinion for the Court: The doctrine of sovereign immunity cannot stand as a barrier to North Carolina citizens who seek to remedy violations of their rights guaranteed by the Declaration of Rights.
Hopefully, there are some attorneys who will rise to the challenge and “keep the war for justice going in North Carolina.”
The end result of the lawsuit is a book that I authored in 2010 and that is still selling quite well. Titled, Fired with Enthusiasm: Testing Freedom of Speech in the University of North Carolina System, the book is a heavily documented, first–hand account of both the legal and personal aspects of a landmark free speech lawsuit in North Carolina.
At the present time, I am the sole outlet for this paperback book, which is priced at $20.00 total. Featuring a somewhat larger print size makes the book easier to read.
My contact information is as follows:
Name: Al Corum
Address: 181 East Ridge Drive – Boone, NC 28607
Phone: (828) 264–2905
e-mail: by request