Justice Bob Orr
  • courtesy NCICL
  • Justice Bob Orr

Former N.C. Supreme Court Associate Justice Bob Orr is stepping down as executive director of the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law, according to an announcement on the nonprofit organization’s website. Orr, who had been the group’s founding director and ran the organization for seven years, will return to private practice.

Orr will stay at the center through the end of the year to bring in the group’s new director, Jeanette Doran. Doran was formerly the group’s senior staff attorney. The group also announced it will be moving from its office on Six Forks Road to downtown Raleigh at 414 Fayetteville St.

The organization, which promotes education in constitutional law and litigates constitutional cases, is nonpartisan, but is widely viewed as a conservative group. The center’s mission statement says it will advocate for the principles of limited government. Raleigh Republican Art Pope, who has gained notoriety in recent months for his deep financial support of conservative causes, is one of the group’s founders and its treasurer.

Orr and the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law also garnered recent attention for a proposal to create a center to study the state constitution at the law school at N.C. Central University. The Pope Foundation would have provided $600,000 in start-up funding.

Some faculty were hesitant about the proposal and several student groups protested any affiliation between NCCU and the Pope-backed group, specifically because of Pope’s political views and the fortune he has made through a group of dollar stores and inexpensive retailers, Variety Wholesalers, which specifically target low-income areas, according to company literature.

Orr withdrew his proposal last month, partly crediting the public resistance.