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Cleveland State U. Changing Name of Law School Because Namesake Owned Slaves

Cleveland State U. Changing Name of Law School Because Namesake Owned Slaves

“The decision came after a vote of the Cleveland State University Board of Trustees on Thursday.”

I will now once again point out that Yale is not changing its name, even though Elihu Yale was actively involved in the slave trade. Why should any other school do this?

WKYC News reports:

Cleveland State University changing name of Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, named for former chief justice who owned slaves

Cleveland State University has announced that it has removed the name Cleveland-Marshall from its College of Law. Going forward, the college will be known as the CSU College of Law.

The decision came after a vote of the Cleveland State University Board of Trustees on Thursday.

The College of Law had been named in part after former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, who owned slaves.

“While Chief Justice John Marshall’s contributions to American jurisprudence are significant and will continue to be an important part of our curriculum, his ownership of slaves and his beliefs and actions relating to slavery are contrary to the values of our University and a disservice to our community,” Cleveland State University President Dr. Laura Bloomberg wrote in a letter to the campus community.

As the nation was swept up in the calls for racial justice amid the death of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, a petition calling for the removal of Marshall’s name was sent to both the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at CSU, as well as at the John Marshall Law School at the University of Illinois Chicago.

Cleveland-Marshall College of Law responded by forming a committee of faculty, staff, students, and alumni to begin the process of reviewing whether the name ‘Marshall’ should be removed. That committee, chaired by Lee Fisher, the Dean of the College of Law, forwarded a comprehensive report on the matter to an ad hoc committee which unanimously recommended the removal of Marshall. Bloomberg then forwarded the committee’s recommendation and her endorsement of it to the Board of Trustees.

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“While Chief Justice John Marshall’s contributions to American jurisprudence are significant and will continue to be an important part of our curriculum, his ownership of slaves and his beliefs and actions relating to slavery are contrary to the values of our University and a disservice to our community,”

CSU President Dr. Laura Bloomberg

Dr. Bloomberg’s statement strikes me as inconsistent with the very removal of John Marshall’s name. If “his ownership of slaves and his beliefs and actions relating to slavery” warrant removal, then doesn’t that taint EVERYTHING he ever said or did? Hence, let’s do away with Marbury v. Madison and all of Marshall’s other precedents, doctrines (e.g., stare decisis), collegiality, and the like. There is no reason to distinguish his slave-owning from every other character and conduct on the Court! Too extreme, you say? I agree: And so should his name not be abolished.

Funny that they couldn’t think of another Marshall who served on the Supreme Court that they could pivot to. It’s not like they named an airport after him or anything. It would have saved a lot of work in erasing “Marshall” from buildings, Web presence, etc.

SkepticalFella | November 19, 2022 at 2:01 pm

If, as Justice Marshall was so flawed, the law school name must be changed, then the wrongly decided Marbury v. Madison precedent must also be.

The United States Supreme Court will no longer be able to assert original jurisdiction except where explicitly noted in the Constitution, and the court will no longer have the unconstitutional power to rule on the “constitutionality” of laws. Seems perfectly logical.