You knew I couldn’t let this one pass.
The UIC John Marshall Law School is officially changing its name to the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law. The decision, a capitulation to the unethical mentality of the cancel culture and historical air-brushing strategy embraced by the political Left, comes after months of review by a task force. The resulting report noted, “that despite Chief Justice Marshall’s legacy as one of the nation’s most significant U.S. Supreme Court justices, the newly discovered research regarding his role as a slave trader, slave owner of hundreds of slaves, pro-slavery jurisprudence, and racist views render him a highly inappropriate namesake for the Law School.”
The most influential and important jurist in U.S, history is a highly inappropriate namesake for a law school. Got it.
John Marshall was the fourth chief justice of the Supreme Court, (1801 – 1835), and the only essential one. He authored the majority opinion in Marbury v. Madison (1803) that established judicial review, giving the Court power to declare legislative acts and executive actions unconstitutional. Without Marshall, the Constitution wouldn’t work. He took a bold and controversial step to ensure that basic rights and principles would not be wiped out by a rogue Congress or a dictatorial President. How many landmark SCOTUS decisions does the nation owe to Marshall as a result? How different would our lives be without his deft adjustment to the balance of the Branches? Would the United States of America even exist at all?
Never mind. Marshall was a racist, you see, and a slaveholder. Virtually every white man in the United States and Europe was a racist in the early 19th Century. The hindsight bias of condemning Marshall for beliefs that were the norm and practices that were legal and accepted by his culture is presentism at its worst.
“The university has arrived at this new name following a thorough and carefully studied process that included input from all corners of the institution and beyond, considered issues of racial injustice and aimed to ensure that our university continues to be a place where diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity are supported and advanced,” said UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis.
This is pandering, virtue-signaling nonsense. The reasons for John Marshall’s significance, fame and honor have nothing to do with racial justice, except to the extent that his jurisprudence made it possible. The reasoning used by the University would similarly require wiping Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Jackson and other essential founders from their proper place as the architects of this country. (It would also require cancelling sexual abuser Martin Luther King.)
Cleveland-Marshall College of Law is also considering cancelling John Marshall. And I’m thinking about changing my name to Ferdinand Slipsnuffle.
Law professor Josh Blackman writes in John Marshall Law School Cancels John Marshall: “John Marshall has officially been canceled. The greatest jurist in American history has been summarily excommunicated. Inclusion demands exclusion. These purges will not stop with slavery. None of us are safe.”