On the Fracas Over the Name of the George Mason University School of Law

by Don Boudreaux on May 5, 2016

in Civil Society, Current Affairs

Lloyd Cohen, one of my esteemed GMU colleagues from over in the law school, eloquently, ably, and rightly defends – in today’s Wall Street Journal – the proposal to rename the GMU School of Law after the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.  The behavior of some other of my GMU colleagues – those who object to the renaming – is in contrast uncivilized, anti-scholarly, juvenile in the extreme, decidedly illiberal, ignorant, and brutish.  Yet this appalling behavior, which was on ugly display at a recent meeting of the GMU Faculty Senate, does have the advantage of further exposing the intolerant and hostile-to-reason core of “Progressivism.”  Here’s an irony-revealing slice from Lloyd’s essay:

As a member of the faculty senate, I attended this meeting and took the opportunity to defend the late justice from scurrilous and defamatory statements made against him by some of my fellow senators. They claim that the late justice made derogatory comments pertaining to race, gender and sexual orientation. In my own speech, I noted that they cited no specific examples despite Justice Scalia’s 30 years on the bench, and I read from his most-recent dissent, in the Obergefell v. Hodges case on same-sex marriage. Much to my surprise, several of my faculty colleagues interrupted me by calling for me to be prevented from speaking, a sad commentary on their tolerance for open debate and intellectual inquiry.

Despite the utter lack of evidence, the faculty senate swiftly moved forward with a nonbinding resolution condemning the renaming on the grounds that it would fail to create “a comfortable home for individuals with a variety of viewpoints.”

I myself am no great fan the late Justice Scalia.  He was, in my opinion, far too deferential to legislatures.  But as Lloyd correctly points out, that Scalia was a major and respected and illustrious American jurist cannot be doubted save by fools.  I will be proud to be a member of the faculty of a university whose law school bears his name.  I am not, however, proud to be a member of a university faculty that has in its ranks – thank goodness not in Economics or in Law – pea-brained and intolerant ignoramuses of the sort who oppose the renaming of our School of Law.

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