George Mason University (GMU) in Virginia is poised to rename its law school after deceased Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, in a surprising development on Thursday.
The renaming is apparently related to a pair of donations the school has received totaling $30 million. The first donation of $20 million is anonymous, while the second of $10 million is coming from The Charles Koch Foundation. The name change is being voted on by the school’s board of directors Thursday afternoon, and the final decision will have to be approved by Virginia’s higher education authority before taking effect.
Scalia was not an alumnus of George Mason, but the school is a fitting place to rename in honor of the Court’s most outspoken conservative justice. Recently, George Mason has become known for the significant number of libertarian and conservative law and economics professors who work there. For instance, three members of the high-profile conservative legal blog, The Volokh Conspiracy, are professors at GMU, and the school also hosts the Mercatus Center, a free-market think tank.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Scalia’s close friend and ideological foe on the Court, praised the renaming as a fitting tribute to him. But other left-leaning voices and alumni are already denouncing the renaming.
This will be super embarrassing in 20 years when Scalia’s anti-gay opinions are taught alongside Plessy & Dred Scott https://t.co/T5sjwBmWIx
— Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) March 31, 2016
— Eric Janson (@ericjanson23) March 31, 2016
Others joked that the new name, Antonin Scalia School of Law, could easily be abbreviated as ASSLaw.
Ironically, George Mason itself is named after a Founding Father who refused to sign the Constitution, protesting its lack of a Bill of Rights. But Mason also played a major role in the creation of the Second Amendment, which was based on a part of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which he wrote. That would be a fitting match for Scalia, whose most memorable decision may be District of Columbia v. Heller, which affirmed an individual right to bear arms.
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