On November 1st, 2023, a group consisting of community members, former Vance Monument Task Force Co-Chairs Deborah Miles and Dr. Oralene Simmons, local Vance family descendant Noel Nickle, Emancipate NC’s Community Lawyering Fellow Jaelyn Miller, and Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer gathered at the NC Supreme Court to present oral arguments in favor of removing the Confederate statue located in Buncombe County. The statue’s removal is being contested by The Society for the Historical Preservation of the NC 26th Troops.
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Emancipate NC, and the North Carolina Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System (NC CRED), along with community members and Vance family descendants, are supporting the statewide effort to remove the statue. At the argument Justice Anita Earls highlighted the absurdity of the Plaintiff’s claims regarding standing and that their argument is inconsistent with prior case law. Apart from Justice Allen, the Justice’s who asked questions (Dietz, Riggs, Earls, Allen) were dubious of the Plaintiff’s claims that they have standing to sue the City for a statute that the City owns, based on a contract that occurred 8 years ago and does not explicitly or implicitly relate to the statue’s continued existence/preservation, or based on a statute that doesn’t grant a private right of action, which the NC Supreme Court has held before in monument cases (United Daughters/Winston-Salem).
Allen questioned if the special interest group has standing because the AG is not enforcing the statute.
The argument highlighted the impact of Justice Earls on the bench, she named the quiet parts out loud.