PEMBROKE — Lumbee Tribal Chairman Paul Brooks says the Supreme Court’s ruling that the tribal chairman has full authority to oversee operations of the Office of Veterans Affairs demonstrates that the “Supreme Court … is cognitive of how the constitution works.”
The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously ruled that the tribal chairman, and not the Lumbee Tribal Council, has full authority to oversee the Office off Veterans Affairs and may both choose and dismiss the office’s director.
The court’s ruling results from a petition filed with the tribe’s highest court on June 29. The petition was filed after Brooks dismissed Harold Hunt, the director of the tribe’s Veterans Affairs Office.
According to the court ruling written by Chief Justice Gary Locklear, a temporary restraining order was issued preventing Brooks from removing director. That order was dissolved on July 9 after “the court was persuaded that no immediate or irreparable harm would occur if the chairman dismissed and/or removed the director.”
After the restraining order was dissolved, Brooks fired the director.
The court on Monday heard arguments from the council, represented by attorney Jessica Scott, that the Veterans Affairs Office and director’s position were created over the years by acts of the council, therefore only the Tribal Council could dismiss or remove the director. The chairman, represented by attorney Ron Sutton, argued that only the executive branch can hire and fire and must have control over personnel.
“This matter revisits the continuing, but highly unnecessary, public struggle between the executive and legislative branches of tribal government for control of Lumbee Tribe and the operations thereof,” Locklear said in his decision.
Brooks said that Rory Eddings has been appointed as the new director for the Office of Veterans Affairs.
“We’re proud of the way the department works with our veterans and addresses their needs,” Brooks said.
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 910-272-6117 of email@example.com.