One conservative foundation had big plans for the law school at North Carolina Central University. And now the dream is over.

According to an article by Rob Christensen in The News & Observer:

A proposal to create a constitutional law center at N.C. Central University in Durham has been withdrawn after generating controversy because it would have been financed by a foundation with close ties to Raleigh businessman Art Pope [right].

The project was the brain child of Robert Orr, a former N.C. Supreme Court justice and former GOP candidate for governor, who hoped to create one of the few centers in the country devoted to the study of state constitutional law. Orr’s proposed source of funding for the center was $600,000 in grants from the John William Pope Foundation, the family foundation headed by Art Pope, who has overseen the expenditure of millions of dollars to finance conservative causes and Republican politics.

Art Pope, the multimillionaire owner of discount chain Variety Wholesalers, is a major benefactor of conservative causes in North Carolina. It was Pope’s money that helped Republicans take over the state legislature last year.

The Pope family has given generously to education institutions in North Carolina. The family helps fund the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in Raleigh, for example.

The center at North Carolina Central University, a historically black university, was supposed to be devoted to the study of state constitutional law. After alumni expressed concern about “some of the activity and affiliations of Art Pope” Orr has withdrew his proposal for funding from Pope.

According to the article, Orr said he was disappointed but, “Some folks just don’t like Art Pope. Art was simply trying to help.” [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer