Cleveland 19 News, Cleveland State Considering Renaming Cleveland Marshall College of Law Due To Its Racist Roots:
Hanna Kassis has spent months fighting for the names of two prominent law schools to be changed. ...
Who was John Marshall? Research by historians has revealed Marshall owned hundreds of slaves. Some suggest the Supreme Court justice made decisions in favor of slave owners because of his ties to the slave trade. ...
Kasssis, who lives in Cleveland, wants Cleveland Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State to be renamed as well as his alma matter, UIC John Marshall Law School in Chicago, and the other elementary and high schools named after Marshall across the country.
“It’s proof of systemic racism and the whole argument that we’re erasing history is kind of bogus because the act of renaming itself becomes history, and there’s a right side to that history and there’s a wrong side to that history," Kassis said.
Kassis started a petition in June. He also started a website; renamejohnmarshall.com and multiple social media accounts and his efforts have worked. Kassis is on a committee to rename John Marshall Law School in Chicago.
19 News reached out to Cleveland State about this. They denied our request for an on-camera interview but they did send us a statement:
We take the petition to change the name of our law school and the spirit in which it was written very seriously. We reject and condemn racism in all its forms — overt, covert, and systemic, and we accept our responsibility to evaluate our role in perpetuating racism, whether it is conscious or unconscious.
Removing “Marshall” from our law school’s name would be a very consequential decision by the College of Law and Cleveland State University that will require careful study and thoughtful consideration of different viewpoints from our entire law school and university community. We have begun that process by forming a Law School Name Committee consisting of CSU Cleveland-Marshall faculty, staff, students, and alumni which is meeting regularly to consider this issue.
In considering a name change, we will incorporate wide input and will be guided by our proud history, our guiding values, our law school’s mission Learn Law. Live Justice, and the values and mission of Cleveland State University.
Darby Dickinson (Dean, UIC John Marshall Law School), Announcing a Task Force to Consider Renaming the Law School and the Law School Antiracism Coordinating Committee:
After listening to input from the Law School community, I am appointing a new task force and a new committee to further our work to become an antiracist Law School. The details about each appear below. I hope you all will work with these two groups to help us continue to evolve and grow. In the near future, I will be providing additional updates and details about other antiracism programs and initiatives. Thank you for reading about these important matters.
Task Force to Consider Renaming the Law School
Background: UIC Law’s official name is UIC John Marshall Law School. That name, until August 2025, is controlled by a Premises Covenant in the Asset Transfer Agreement between the University of Illinois Board of Trustees and The John Marshall Law School. In addition, another Premises Covenant requires UIC to refer to the Law School campus as the John Marshall campus until August 2025.
The Law School’s name traces to its founding, in 1899, as The John Marshall Law School. John Marshall was the fourth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court; he also served as Secretary of State and as a member of the House of Representatives. John Marshall owned and traded slaves. He also wrote opinions that address slavery and indigenous sovereignty.
Some alumni, students, and faculty have called for the name John Marshall to be removed from the Law School’s official name as expeditiously as possible and before the Premises Covenants expire. Dean Darby Dickerson has appointed and charged a Task Force to make findings and a recommendation about the Law School name.
If the Task Force recommends a name change, she will provide that recommendation to UIC’s Chancellor. The Chancellor will make a recommendation to the University of Illinois President and Board of Trustees. Dean Dickerson also will provide the Task Force’s findings and recommendation to the Law School Legacy Corporation f/k/a The John Marshall Law School so that its board can consider whether to waive the two Premises Covenants that require use of the John Marshall name until August 2025.
Charge: To develop findings and a recommendation about whether “John Marshall” should be removed from the Law School’s name. In so doing:
Gather input from our law students, faculty, staff, and alumni regarding the Law School’s name; Conduct research regarding C.J. John Marshall’s personal and professional history regarding slavery, indigenous Americans, and related matters; Conduct research regarding why the Law School was named for C.J. John Marshall.
If the Task Force recommends removing the John Marshall name, propose the principles that should be recommended to the Law School Legacy Corporation when evaluating whether to release the University of Illinois from the Premises Covenants related to the John Marshall name and that the University of Illinois Board of Trustees use when evaluating whether to accelerate removal of John Marshall from the Law School’s name.
Timeline: The Task Force’s work will begin immediately. The Task Force plans to complete its work in or before January 2021.
(Title and Pronouns: Dean/she/her/hers)
Dean and Professor of Law
UIC John Marshall Law School
The University of Illinois at Chicago
300 S. State Street
Chicago, IL 60604
- Josh Blackman (South Texas), Cancelling John Marshall: Two Law Schools Named After the Great Chief Justice Consider Dropping His Name
- Paul Finkelman (President, Gratz College), Master John Marshall and the Problem of Slavery, 87 U. Chi. L. Rev. (Sept. 1, 2020)
- Paul Finkelman (President, Gratz College), John Marshall's Proslavery Jurisprudence: Racism, Property, and the "Great" Chief Justice, 87 U. Chi. L. Rev. (Sept. 1, 2020)
- Karen Sloan (Law.com), Should Law Schools 'Cancel' SCOTUS Titan John Marshall?