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Please Tell Me GMU Law School Is Playing a Really Sick April Fools Joke


It’s bad enough that GMU’s Mercatus Center is a Koch-sucking far-right-wing organization (e.g., see this New Yorker article, which discusses how “the Koch family foundations have contributed more than thirty million dollars to George Mason, much of which has gone to the Mercatus Center”).  But now….this??? Let me remind everyone that Antonin Scalia was a corrupt, bigoted extremist. Why would anyone in their (far) right mind want to name anything after that guy, let alone a law school? Has GMU gone completely off its rocker or what? Or, as ThinkProgress Justice Editor Ian Millhiser puts it, GMU can now “stop pretending to be anything other than a conservative policy shop with students.” Ugh. I mean, what’s GMU going to do next, the Trump School for Ethics and Tolerance?

P.S. Of course, GMU’s Board of Visitors is an overwhelmingly right-wing outfit, filled with appointees by Bob McDonnell and donating at a nearly 50;1 ratio to Republicans over Democrats. This, apparently, is the result.

  • Jayne says…

    Props to George Mason. Your definitions of “corrupt,” “bigoted,” and “extremist” are different from what normal people mean when they use those terms.

  • ruralcounsel

    Shame on you for this ignorant partisan hack piece.

    • Actually, it’s defenders of the corrupt bigot Antonin Scalia who should feel ashamed.

      • If Liberals are so pure, why are most blue cities such hotbeds of corruption? Detroit? Chicago? New Orleans? Philadelphia?

      • rsbsail

        You are beclowning yourself with that ignorant comment. Why don’t you ask Justice Ginsberg if she believes Justice Scalia was a bigot or corrupt, and get back to us?

        • Riiiight, so now you’re citing liberal Justice Ginsberg, who was friends with Scalia but completely disagreed with him on the law, as a source? Whatever.

  • fahagen

    Glad to know what extreme, left-wing policy shop ThinkProgress thinks about George Mason. It must be a bastion of free thinking and tolerance if the authoritarian left hates it.

    • There’s nothing “extreme” or “authoritarian” about ThinkProgress, unless you consider the truth to be “extreme” or “authoritarian.”

      • except it is extreme and authoritarian. It’s backed by a billionaire who made his fortune ruining the currencies of 3rd world countries.

  • James Madison

    “GMU’s Board of Visitors is an overwhelmingly right-wing outfit . . . donating at a nearly 50;1 ratio to Republicans over Democrats.”

    Is the fact that members of a university’s faculty or board donates in such partisan fashion a problem? Perhaps then we should examine the political donations by faculty and administrators at other universities.

    Or is overwhelming partisanship in political donations at universities only a problem when those donations skew toward Republicans?

    • Of course it is. Money in politics is only a problem when it’s towards conservative causes. You NEVER hear complains about Soros’ spending habits, nor those of Tom Steyer…

      • Uhhhh…have you paid any attention at all to the Democratic candidates for president? Both of them have talked about money in politics being a huge problem, not just towards “conservative causes.” Of course, we can thank Antonin Scalia for opening the floodgates to money in politics, so you should love him if you’re a big fan of corporations and wealthy individuals purchasing our elected officials, regulatory agencies, etc.

        • James Madison

          I see. So how do you feel about the partisan skew of faculty at other universities? It seems you might be in favor, in the interest of diversity, of having schools aim for ideological balance, equality, and overall non-partisanship.

          • notjohnsmosby

            The fact that the vast majority of academics are liberal should tell you something about the overall validity of conservative ideas.

          • Redboot

            The “vast majority of academics” have lived in an ivory tower their entire majority …. and have little if any understanding of reality in today’s world.
            I suggest that a university is a locus for learning in which the faculty should expose the students to the entire spectrum of philosophies as well as their individual proponents and track records.

        • PavePusher

          “Uhhhh…have you paid any attention at all to the Democratic candidates for president? Both of them have talked about money in politics being a huge problem”

          And yet Clinton still fellates for dollars.

          Too bad she didn’t do so for her husband, we could have missed a low-point in politics.

  • I agree with State Senator Scott Surovell: “Changing from the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, a Founding Father, and a great Virginia, to one of the most controversial Supreme Court justices in modern history. If I was an alumni, I would be furious.”

  • Yep, $10 million from the Koch brothers!

    Mason Receives $30 Million in Gifts, Renames School of Law After Justice Antonin Scalia

    Largest Combined Gift in University’s History Will Support New Scholarship Programs

    Arlington, VA — George Mason University today announces pledges totaling $30 million to the George Mason University Foundation to support the School of Law. The gifts, combined, are the largest in university history. The gifts will help establish three new scholarship programs that will potentially benefit hundreds of students seeking to study law at Mason.

    In recognition of this historic gift, the Board of Visitors has approved the renaming of the school to The Antonin Scalia School of Law at George Mason University.

    “This is a milestone moment for the university,” said George Mason University President Ángel Cabrera. “These gifts will create opportunities to attract and retain the best and brightest students, deliver on our mission of inclusive excellence, and continue our goal to make Mason one of the preeminent law schools in the country.”

    Mason has grown rapidly over the last four decades to become the largest public research university in Virginia. The School of Law was established in 1979 and has been continually ranked among the top 50 law programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

    Justice Scalia, who served 30 years on the U.S. Supreme Court, spoke at the dedication of the law school building in 1999 and was a guest lecturer at the university. He was a resident of nearby McLean, Virginia.

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, his esteemed colleague on the Supreme Court for more than two decades, said Scalia’s opinions challenged her thinking and that naming the law school after him was a fine tribute.

    “Justice Scalia was a law teacher, public servant, legal commentator, and jurist nonpareil. As a colleague who held him in highest esteem and great affection, I miss his bright company and the stimulus he provided, his opinions ever challenging me to meet his best efforts with my own. It is a tribute altogether fitting that George Mason University’s law school will bear his name. May the funds for scholarships, faculty growth, and curricular development aid the Antonin Scalia School of Law to achieve the excellence characteristic of Justice Scalia, grand master in life and law,” added Ginsburg.

    “Justice Scalia’s name evokes the very strengths of our school: civil liberties, law and economics, and constitutional law,” said Law School Dean Henry N. Butler. “His career embodies our law school’s motto of learn, challenge, lead. As a professor and jurist, he challenged those around him to be rigorous, intellectually honest, and consistent in their arguments.”

    The combined gift will allow the university to establish three new scholarship programs to be awarded exclusively and independently by the university:

    Antonin Scalia Scholarship – Awarded to students with excellent academic credentials.

    A. Linwood Holton, Jr. Leadership Scholarship – Named in honor of the former governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, this scholarship will be awarded to students who have overcome barriers to academic success, demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities, or have helped others overcome discrimination in any facet of life.

    F.A. Hayek Law, Legislation, and Liberty Scholarship – Named in honor of the 1974 Nobel Prize winner in economics, this scholarship will be awarded to students who have a demonstrated interest in studying the application of economic principles to the law.

    “The growth of George Mason University’s law school, both in size and influence, is a tribute to the hard work of its leaders and faculty members,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “I am particularly pleased that new scholarship awards for students who face steep barriers in their academic pursuits will be named in honor of former Virginia Governor Linwood Holton, an enduring and appropriate legacy for a man who championed access to education for all Virginians.”

    The scholarships will help Mason continue to be one of the most diverse universities in America.

    “When we speak about diversity, that includes diversity of thought and exposing ourselves to a range of ideas and points of view,” said Cabrera. “Justice Scalia was an advocate of vigorous debate and enjoyed thoughtful conversations with those he disagreed with, as shown by his longtime friendship with Justice Ginsburg. That ability to listen and engage with others, despite having contrasting opinions or perspectives, is what higher education is all about.”

    The gift includes $20 million that came to George Mason through a donor who approached Leonard A. Leo of the Federalist Society, a personal friend of the late Justice Scalia and his family. The anonymous donor asked that the university name the law school in honor of the Justice. “The Scalia family is pleased to see George Mason name its law school after the Justice, helping to memorialize his commitment to a legal education that is grounded in academic freedom and a recognition of the practice of law as an honorable and intellectually rigorous craft,” said Leo.

    The gift also includes a $10 million grant from the Charles Koch Foundation, which supports hundreds of colleges and universities across the country that pursue scholarship related to societal well-being and free societies.

    “We’re excited to support President Cabrera and Dean Butler’s vision for the Law School as they welcome new students and continue to distinguish Mason as a world-class research university,” said Charles Koch Foundation President Brian Hooks.

    The name change is pending approval from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

    A formal dedication ceremony will occur in the fall.

    • Quizzical

      As a Virginia taxpayer, I’m glad that the GMU Law School was able to reel in these donations, because it means (I hope) that the law school will be asking for less money from taxpayers. These donors could just as easily given the funds to any other law school in the country. So well done, to whoever at GMU Law School brought in these funds. As for naming the law school after Scalia, it is within the acceptable range of names for a law school.

      I’d like to see more of this from Virginia colleges and universities. Harvard and Yale have large enough endowments.

  • More from Sen. Scott Surovell:

    I am not clear how the board of visitors have a state-supported university could have approved this with no notice to the public in compliance with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. Also not clear how public universities can accept “Anonymous” donations. The University of Maryland did something similar when leaving the ACC and was found to violate their Sunshine statute.

    • Kindler

      Scott made an EXCELLENT point about transparency here. I seem to remember a few right wingers who were very determined to use Freedom of Information Act rules to see every piece of paper Prof. Michael Mann ever scrawled on at U-VA. We should therefore certainly at least be allowed to know who gave millions to name a public university building after a right wing zealot.

  • And of COURSE right wingnut Barbara Comstock thinks this is a GREAT idea! LOL

    “Wonderful news that George Mason University is renaming its law school — “The Antonin Scalia School of Law”.”

    • notjohnsmosby

      As nutbar facsist as their econ department has been over the years, I wonder who they’ll honor next by naming that crew of plutocrats after?

  • Elaine Owens

    Wow, Lowell. You really brought out the right-wing knives with this post. Bravo for telling the truth. Koch buys GMU law school. Ayn Rand lovers buy lots of departments at universities by giving money to endow chaired dedicated to teaching so-called free-enterprise ideas, producing idiots like Dave Brat.

  • Sign Del. Marcus Simon’s petition “asking The Governor, the State Council on Higher Education and George Mason university not to sell the naming rights to their law school to the Koch Brothers and an Anonymous Donor! This, unfortunately, is not an April Fool’s day joke.”


  • Quizzical
  • True Blue

    Thanks for this piece! It appears that it’s rattled a few AFP employees and ALEC writers. It’s no surprise that Scalia is their patron saint.

    The Kochs avoid giving money to universities unless they help advance business interests; influencing politics and culture through stipulations, special interest groups, and lobbying. In 2005 only 7 universities were funded by Kochs; in 2013 over 300.

    “American Association of University Professors (AAUP) have consistently condemned the contracts that Charles Koch Foundation has arranged with universities receiving large grants for violating the longstanding principles of academic freedom and shared governance.”

    Once the Kochs and Brownback ruined Kansas, their sights were trained on the rest of the US with a sprinkling of corporate welfare, overlording, and buying universities.

    • Of course, these people have no argument, just ad hominem attacks and non sequiturs. Lame.

  • Oldaggie

    From one who lives only a few blocks from GMU Arlington: “There goes the neighborhood.”