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GMU president defends naming law school after Scalia, despite liberal uproar

(AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

(AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

Protests from the anti-Scalia community at George Mason University failed to pay off as GMU president Ángel Cabrera is standing by the Antonin Scalia School of Law name proposal.

Last month a liberal group of faculty members known as No Justice for GMU issued an open letter opposing Scalia’s legacy.

Cabrera acknowledged those concerns:

In a large and proudly diverse university like ours, it is not surprising that the opinions of an influential individual like the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia would generate a wide variety of reactions.  I acknowledge and respect the fact that some of you find some of his opinions objectionable and even personally offensive.

His thoughtful response explained why GMU renamed their law school:

Agreement with his views is, however, not the reason why we are renaming the law school for Justice Scalia.  We are not endorsing his opinions on any specific issue.  We are recognizing a man who served our country at the highest level of government for 30 years and who many experts of diverse ideological persuasions—from faculty colleagues in our law school, to his peers on the Supreme Court, to the president of the United States—consider to have been a great jurist who had a profound impact in the legal field.

“Rejecting a major naming gift in honor of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice on the basis that some of us disagree with some of his opinions would be inconsistent with our values of diversity and freedom of thought,” Cabrera wrote.

Those points had not been obvious to No Justice at GMU, which claimed to speak for “the values” of the campus and specific demographics which had been allegedly harmed by Scalia’s opinions. The group’s letter also started off by equating Scalia’s judicial decisions with his personal views and claimed that the renaming would be “an an affront to those in our community who have been the targets of Scalia’s racism, sexism, and homophobia.”

By linking to liberal outlets supportive of their cause, the group also tried to portray Scalia in a negative light for his “originalist” views.

The letter contained another section against the Koch Brothers. Cabrera addressed gifts from the Charles Koch Foundation, valued at $50 million over decades, too. “To put things in perspective,” he noted, “that would amount to about 0.6 percent of our average annual budget over this period.”

In total, 143 staff members signed the letter, less than 8 percent of the 1,189 staff members.

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