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The North Carolina Supreme Court has directed a commission to study the portraits hanging inside its courtroom amid a complaint about one of a pro-slavery judge.

The News & Observer reported Thursday that the state's top court formed a commission tasked with making a recommendation by Dec. 31, 2019.

Also on Thursday, the newspaper published an op-ed from UNC-Chapel Hill law professor Eric Muller and former Chapel Hill Councilmember Sally Greene drawing attention to the courtroom's portrait of Thomas Ruffin. Ruffin served on the court from 1829 to 1852.

He's best known for his decision in State v. Mann, in which he overturned the assault conviction of a slaveowner who shot a slave in the back for refusing him. Ruffin's portrait is the courtroom's largest, hung behind the justices' bench.


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