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Southern Heritage <br>News and Views: McCLAREN CASE DIES FOR LACK OF FUNDING

Friday, June 25, 2010


After two and a half years of preparation and preliminary sparring, the case of Paul McClaren, a Sons of Confederate Veterans member who was fired from his job for displaying a state-issued Mississippi SCV license tag on his vehicle, has had to be abandoned due to lack of funding to cover going forward, the SLRC revealed Tuesday.

The fate of the case was sealed when the SCV’s General Executive Counsel, apparently by a one-vote margin, refused a request to help underwrite the case at the national level. The request sought $5,000 from SCV National, to be matched by equal amounts from the Tennessee and Mississippi SCV Divisions, who were acting as co-sponsors of the case.

McClaren, a resident of Olive Branch, MS, worked across the river in Memphis, TN, as a counselor at Compass Intervention Center in Memphis. Through the SLRC, he filed suit against his employer and its parent company in October of 2008, a year after his dismissal. The intervening year had been spent researching McClaren’s grounds for action and in responding to legal maneuvering by the defendant’s attorneys, as well as in seeking to build a war chest to support the case. Some SCV camps, including the N.B. Forrest Camp and McClaren’s camp in Memphis, contributed directly as did several individuals, and the Mississippi and Tennessee SCV Divisions agreed to share costs of the case since McClaren was a Mississippi resident (and a Mississippi SCV license tag was involved) but was a Tennessee SCV member. In dollar-and-cent terms, the Mississippi Division bore most of the costs associated with pursuing the case.

As anticipated, a lower Tennessee court dismissed McClaren’s reataliatory discharge suit in January, on grounds that Tennessee’s right-to-work laws trumped McClaren’s claim of wrongful dismissal. The SLRC, together with local counsel Tarry Beasley, immediately filed notice of appeal to the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the request for funding the appeal was made to the General Executive Counsel.

By a vote of 8 to 7, the GEC decided not to fund further action in the McClaren case. Among those voting against the measure were Judge Advocate-in-Chief Simon B. (Chip) Buckner, IV, who had been an outspoken critic of the case in terms of its viability, and SCV Commander-in-Chief
Chuck McMichael.

“Nearly every significant heritage defense case the Confederate community has won, including SCV license plate cases, has initially been lost at the lower court level and won on appeal,” said SLRC Chief Trial Counsel Kirk Lyons. "This case was a lot bigger than Paul McClaren and deserving of our best shot.”

“This was unconscionable,” a grim SLRC Executive Director Roger McCredie, himself a Past SCV Chief of Heritage Defense not known for mincing words, said of the decision. “We aren’t talking about a kid and a t-shirt here; we’re talking about one of our own – an SCV member and a professional man who got caught in the crossfire of political correctness for defending an SCV issued tag. Abandoning his case after three years of work sends a message to big business and the PC crowd, on the eve of the [WBTS] sesquicentennial, that we can rattle our saber all we want to but in the end we don’t intend to draw it.”


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