Virginia Democrats Presssure Law School Not to Honor Justice Antonin Scalia

Scalia Ron Edmunds AP
Ron Edmunds/AP
Fairfax, VA

A group of Democratic legislators in Virginia are demanding George Mason University not rename its law school after recently deceased Justice Antonin Scalia.

The school has already raised $30 million in donations for the effort.

According to the Associated Press, a group of local lawmakers sent a letter to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia — the agency that would approve the name change — insisting the body intervene to force the university to cancel its plans.

Their letter declared that Scalia “was also one of the most controversial justices in modern history.” It continued, “Indeed, we have received pleas from alumni who are deeply concerned that this decision will undermine their ability to find future employment or undermine their professional reputation.”

The university had announced the name change after an anonymous donor gave $20 million to the school, in addition to a $10 million donation by the famed libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch via the Charles Koch Foundation. After the donations were disclosed, the school announced it intended to change the law school’s name to the Antonin Scalia Law School.

The latest moniker came after several Internet sites ridiculed the originally proposed name, the Antonin Scalia School of Law, saying it would forever be known as ASSLaw.

Local lawmakers, including Del. Marcus Simon, D-Falls Church; Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria; and Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, said they felt the name change to honor the conservative jurist was wrong no matter its configuration.

Del. Simon claimed to have received a petition with 1,000 signatures demanding the plans be dropped. Simon also claimed the name change was an “in-your-face” move by conservatives.

“This is a big, in-your-face kind of a move,” Simon said. He went on to insist the name change represented moves by conservatives — especially the Koch brothers — to try and indoctrinate students and to “shape their young minds and train them in the Scalia way of thinking.” He added, “That’s troubling to me.”

The group of lawmakers also told the council the school’s decision to make the changes without having a school-wide referendum was the wrong tactic.

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