Paul L. Caron

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Cleveland State Committee Votes Unanimously To Remove John Marshall From The Name Of Its Law School

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  a Cleveland State committee unanimously recommended removing "Marshall" from its law school's name:

Cleveland StateConclusion and Recommendation
Based on our study of the issues and the reasons set forth above, the Ad Hoc Committee voted unanimously to recommend to President Bloomberg that the name Marshall be removed from the name of CSU’s College of Law.

The reasons for this recommendation are set forth in greater detail throughout the report. However, in summary, the primary reasons include:

  • The naming of Cleveland Marshall College of Law was an honorific naming that was inherited when Cleveland State University acquired the Cleveland Marshall Law School in 1969. Neither Chief John Marshall himself nor any of his descendants have a documented connection to CSU, the City of Cleveland or the Cleveland legal community.
  • Chief Justice John Marshall was a slaveholder who bought and sold slaves throughout his life. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he chose not to free his slaves, and his questionable record on emancipation included active participation in attempts to repatriate freed Black people to Liberia.
  • In a majority-minority city, the Marshall name does not represent the community of Cleveland. The petition from the community and from our students to drop the name Marshall from the Law School is in keeping with continuing work to acknowledge the evil of slavery, the diversity and inclusion goals outlined in CSU 2.0, and the University’s commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for all members of our community.
  • Dropping the name Marshall from the school in no way erases Chief Justice Marshall’s contributions to the American jurisprudence and the development of the Constitution and the Judiciary as an independent and functional third branch of government. These accomplishments will continue to be taught and recognized within the context of what we know about Marshall’s life.

Reuters, Ex-justice's Slaveholding Past Prompts Move to Change Ohio Law School's Name:

If Cleveland State University removes the Marshall name in November, it will become the third law school in the span of 18 months to change names in response to the misdeeds of a historical namesake. The University of Illinois at Chicago School of Law dropped Marshall from its name in May 2021, after nearly a year of discussion among students and alumni.

The University of California Hastings College of the Law announced in July that it will become the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco, in early 2023. The new name eliminates reference to Serranus Hastings, a former California Supreme Court justice who founded the law school in 1878. Historians say Hastings orchestrated the killings of Native Americans in order to remove them from ranch land he purchased in Northern California.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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