The Legal Beat
Just Checking In — Yup, North Carolina Politicians Still Stupid
Posted on Wednesday June 14, 2017
Lawyers like to play up the cockamamie theory that Shakespeare intended his famous line, “the first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” as a compliment. The logic goes that Dick the Butcher was a bad guy, so he was pointing out that lawyers were the vanguard against his — or more accurately his boss Jack’s — villainous plans. Except he wasn’t talking about how he’d unseat the king, he’s talking about his plans if he’d already successfully overthrown the king, and the line is really just a standard lawyer joke to give the audience a good chuckle at how everyone’s dream if they had infinite power would be to kill lawyers.
This is why we need Delta and Bank of America to boycott this Shakespeare kid and this horrific glorification of violence!
Still, the mythologized interpretation lawyers seem to prefer does have some real-life merit. When awful people take power, they like to turn the screws on those defending the rule of law. Turkey has over 400 lawyers in jail. Bahrain just arrested a human rights lawyer yesterday. Jim Comey is unemployed. Et cetera.
North Carolina politicians are bumbling their way toward their own Dick the Butcher moment, moving ahead with their plan to gut the University of North Carolina School of Law budget — nixing 30 percent of the state appropriation — for the sole purpose of squelching a professor whose research center highlights the legislature’s piss-poor efforts at managing the state economy. After politicians got his first research center shuttered, Professor Gene Nichol started the N.C. Poverty Research Fund with private funds to continue pointing out the government’s failures.
Unable to squelch Nichol’s work through direct intervention, they’ve now moved on to attacking the law school at large, regardless of the damage that does to the future of the state. The Charlotte News & Observer editorial board called out this lunacy for what it is:
This action against the law school is clearly aimed at Nichol. That’s not responsible budgeting. It’s petty revenge politics, and at its worst, it’s a dangerous attempt to muffle free speech in a place where it should thrive. If anything, his outspokenness spurs more intelligent debate from the right as well as the left.
Every year, the UNC law school turns out men and women who go not just to corporate law firms but also to their hometowns to defend people in district court and ensure their rights. And they take on important issues of personal freedom as well; many serve in local elective offices, helping to formulate ordinances about everything from the rights of those who demonstrate for causes in which they believe to the placement of bicycle lanes.
In fairness, we shouldn’t have expected much more out of this legislature. They can’t even draw lines on a map!
Still, the effort to cut off the law school just to keep from having to respond to a critic is a dangerous and short-sighted move. In a state where a law school was literally cut off by the Department of Education for its performance, North Carolina should be redoubling its efforts to protect an affordable, high-quality public law school.
But that’s why Dick the Butcher isn’t considered the shrewdest character in dramatic history.
Cutting the UNC law school budget is a clumsy attempt to quiet a critic [News & Observer]
Joe Patrice is an editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news.