Thus far, my blog posts have reflected my work this summer in the area of American Indian law. Though this has been the focus of much of the research and writing that I have completed, I also have had the opportunity to gain exposure to other areas of the firm as well. For instance, at the start of my internship I learned about a recent matter that CHP was involved with concerning the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond.
Over the summer of 2020, protests across the United States forced Richmond to confront its confederate past. Richmond’s Monument Avenue is the site of a street of historic homes built in a variety of architecture styles. More controversially, however, until recently it also housed five monuments to confederate soldiers. Although four of the statues have been removed in the last year, that of Robert E. Lee remains standing. Following two lawsuits against Governor Ralph Northam (Gregory v. Northam and Taylor v. Northam), a temporary injunction has halted his attempt to order its removal.
CHP wrote an amicus brief on behalf of Circle Neighbors, a group representing 95% of homeowners living within a direct line of sight to the Lee monument. These homeowners advocate for its removal. I read the brief during my second week at CHP. It explains, first, that the plaintiffs lack standing. Furthermore, it counters the plaintiffs’ attempt to use historic preservation law to protect the statues. As the amicus brief notes, historic preservation laws should not be used to further the interests of monuments that “are historically significant only in the sense in that they are part of a movement intended to tell and incomplete, false, and harmful history.” Rather, historic preservation law should “preserve our sense of orientation as an American people.” A week later, I had the opportunity to listen to oral arguments.
Even though this I did not work directly on this matter this summer, I was happy to have the opportunity to read the amicus brief and listen to oral arguments. As a Richmonder, I have watched as Richmond evolve into a more inclusive city and am grateful to have had the opportunity to work at a firm that has directly supported this growth.
Read the brief here: