Law Schools

Don't rename George Mason after 'polarizing and controversial' Justice Scalia, state lawmaker urges

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Justice Antonin Scalia.

A plan to rename George Mason University’s law school in honor of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has run into opposition.

Calling Scalia a “polarizing and controversial” figure on the nation’s top court, a Virginia lawmaker is circulating a petition calling for the State Council of Higher Education to nix the name change, even though it would mean refusing tens of millions in donations, and published an op-ed piece opposing the plan in the Washington Post (reg. req.) Tuesday.

“Unlike some of the truly great jurists who have sat on the court, he was not the author of any groundbreaking opinion that moved our society forward,” writes Delegate Marcus B. Simon, a Democrat, who also notes that Scalia was not known as a consensus-builder.

“Rather, he is best known for his caustic dissents, laced with pointed and often personal attacks on his fellow court members, and for being a champion of the idea of originalism,” Simon writes. “That is, trying to imagine what the original authors of the Constitution, all of whom were white males and many of whom owned slaves, would think of issues, such as affirmative action or same-sex marriage.”

When the planned name change was announced last month, Scalia’s longtime friend and colleague, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, championed the idea.

She called the renaming a fitting tribute to Scalia, who she described as a “law teacher, public servant, legal commentator, and jurist nonpareil,”

A small change has already been made in the law school’s new name since then, to avoid what the Wall Street Journal Law Blog (sub. req.) describes as an “awkward acronym.”

Instead of being known as the Antonin Scalia School of Law, the institution will be known as the Antonin Scalia Law School under the latest plan.

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