Feature Photo by Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media
Taru Taylor, a guest blogger with CELDF, helped spearhead efforts to rename law schools named after Former Chief Justice John Marshall, a key architect of the United State’s constitutional system who owned 200 slaves. CELDF along with many others signed onto the calls for law schools to rename themselves and reconnect with their white supremacist pasts. We congratulate Taru’s and the local community’s efforts in this significant name change and recognize that more actions are necessary to end systemic racism and achieve equity and balance of power. You can read Taru’s previously posted blog on this topic, John Marshall: A Case Study of Institutional Racism. CELDF congratulates all of the participants in this effort!
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cleveland State University’s law school will now bear the name Cleveland State University College of Law.
The name change was approved unanimously Thursday by CSU’s board of trustees to eliminate references to legendary U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall from the Cleveland State University Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, in light of his history as a slaveholder.
In a message to the CSU Law College Community, Lee Fisher, dean of Cleveland State University College of Law made the following comments:
“The Law School Name Committee met over 18 months, and sought wide and deep input from all Law College constituencies. The Name Committee created a Law School Name Website and comprehensive resource materials on institutional name change issues: the Law School Name Resource Guide. The process included six virtual public forums which included nationally prominent speakers from universities which have dealt with similar naming issues, a 45-page Law School Name Framing Document that presented different views on the Law College name issue, and an online survey sent to over 4,000 Law College alumni, students, faculty, and staff as well as CSU and Cleveland legal community members.
I support the CSU Board’s decision. We cannot ignore the reality that Chief Justice John Marshall bought and sold hundreds of slaves throughout his adult life, and unlike many of his contemporaries like George Washington, did not free any of his slaves; nor can we ignore his troubling beliefs, statements, and actions relating to slavery. His actions and views are contrary to the shared values of our Law College and the University – an unwavering commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
My view is that changing our Law College name is not about erasing history; it is about understanding the inherent complexity of our history and reckoning with that history in the context of our present-day values. Chief Justice John Marshall’s contributions to American jurisprudence are significant and enduring, and his writings, decisions, and judicial legacy will continue to be an important part of our curriculum and the education of all CSU College of Law students, but we need to recognize the distinction between history and bestowing honor. Naming rights are a highly cherished honor that should be reserved for those whose actions are consistent with the shared present day values of the Law College and University and those with the strongest ties to our Law College – either through their service or their philanthropy. The fact is neither Chief Justice Marshall nor his ancestors have any ties to Cleveland, CSU, or our Law College.”
Author’s Note: I went to law school to learn all about how We the People are sovereign and how as jurors and electors we “check and balance” the other three branches of government. A lot of this stuff I should have learned in grade school. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or comments or further dialogue.