Last week, my law school (formerly George Mason University School of Law) rebranded itself “The Antonin Scalia School of Law at George Mason University.”
Shortly after the renaming, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in a statement, “It is a tribute altogether fitting that George Mason University’s law school will bear his name… [m]ay the funds for scholarships, faculty growth, and curricular development aid the Antonin Scalia School of Law to achieve the excellence characteristic of Justice Scalia, grand master in life and law.”
To be clear, we’re talking about the same Ginsburg who’s scathing dissent in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby earned her the nickname “notorious RBG”; the same Ginsburg who took conservative justices the woodshed in 2012 with her “broccoli horrible” argument; the same Ginsburg who struck down Nebraska’s partial-birth abortion law in Stenberg v. Carhart; the same Ginsburg who stood up for affirmative action admissions policies in Grutter v. Bollinger; and the same Ginsburg who was the first Supreme Court Justice to officiate a same-sex wedding.
Yet there it was, clear as day: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, progressives’ knight-in-shining armor, showering her former conservative colleague and friend with generous praise.
Unfortunately, many people — including, sadly, a few of my classmates — chose not to follow Justice Ginsburg down the route of civility.
“It’s gross that a school that prides itself so much on diversity would agree to honor a known racist,” writes one student. “Come to Antonin Scalia School of Law and be surrounded by ASSOLs! Get a degree in ASSLaw today!” writes another.
George Mason faculty jumped in, too. “This is horrifying. For the record, I teach on the main campus in an interdisciplinary department — I did not even apply to [George Mason] Law School because it has been a right-wing establishment before its receipt of this awful moniker,” writes Professor Noura Erakat.
Outside of social media, there has been petitions to abandon the new name, a mass email campaign to the president of the university, a reported incident of a student screaming at the Dean in the school’s atrium, and demands that students’ diplomas be stripped of the new name upon request. There have even been suggestions of legal action against the school.
Several media outlets have taken a stance as well. Gawker, having smeared Justice Scalia in the past, reported that “George Mason this week scheduled a future campus PC incident by announcing plans to rename itself after a Supreme Court justice who, frankly, would never have hired one of its graduates.” Above The Law, a popular law blog, wrote “If George Mason just wanted to appeal to conservative students, they could have called themselves the Chick-Fil-A School Of Lawsauce, and still pocketed the money.”
How truly disappointing. Rather than appreciating (or in some cases, even understanding) the tremendous accomplishments of one of America’s greatest jurists, those who disagree with Justice Scalia’s judicial philosophy would rather break down in a childish temper tantrum and lob insults.
Perhaps if the complaining students and faculty at George Mason (who do not reflect the majority of The Antonin Scalia School of Law) took a page out of Justice Ginsburg’s book, spent less time whining, and more time honing their ability to grapple with differing ideas, (i.e., being lawyers), they’d be less incensed.
I won’t hold my breath.
Thomas Wheatley is a law student at The Antonin Scalia School of Law at George Mason University. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.