The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday March 20th

Board of Governors sends letter to Cooper: If you can't defend us, you'll have to foot the bill

During Friday's meeting in Chapel Hill, the UNC-system Board of Governors voted to approve sending a letter to N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper, stating that if he will not defend the Board against litigation resulting from the passage of House Bill 2, his office will be expected to cover the cost of hiring outside counsel. 

The General Counsel of the Board of Governors, Tom Shanahan, said in a press conference that the Board has hired Wilmer Hale and Jones Day, both Washington D.C.-based law firms, to represent them. 

After Chairman Bissette motioned to approve the letter, Gov. Thom Goolsby, acting on behalf of Gov. Alex Mitchell in addition to himself, motioned to ask the state legislature to condemn Mr. Cooper's actions and compel him to either defend the board or have his office's budget punitively taxed. 

The latter motion failed to gain enough traction, but the letter to Cooper was sent. The Board of Governors will await Cooper's response and said it looks to move forward in the legal process with or without the attorney general, according to Chairman Bissette. 

When asked why the Board would not simply reject HB2, or pressure the legislature to overturn the law, many Board members noted that it is simply not within their power to do so, and so long as it is law they must do their best to follow it while still serving the students of the UNC-system. 

"We didn't make the law. We're simply charged with following the law," said system President Margaret Spellings. "We're just trying to determine what the law is."

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