Law school to remove John Marshall's name over racist past

CHICAGO — University of Illinois trustees voted to remove the name of the longest-serving U.S. Supreme Court chief justice from the University of Illinois-Chicago law school after a task force said John Marshall’s history as a slave owner and trader “render him a highly inappropriate namesake for the law school.”

The University of Illinois at Chicago merged with the private John Marshall Law School in 2019 to create the city’s first public law school, named UIC John Marshall Law School. It will be renamed the UI-Chicago School of Law effective July 1, the News-Gazette reported.

The trustees’ vote Thursday followed a months-long review by a university task force, which voted 6-1 to remove Marshall’s name. The law school faculty and faculty senate also voted in favor of renaming the school, which is separate from the University of Illinois College of Law in Urbana.

The task force report issued in February stated that despite 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.”

In a statement, UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis said the name change followed a “thorough and carefully studied process” with input from inside and outside the institution and “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,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

John Marshall Law School was established in 1899. As part of the 2019 merger, the University of Illinois agreed to keep the phrase “John Marshall Law School” in the name for at least five years. Thursday’s vote was needed to amend the transfer agreement and allow for the name change to take effect this year.

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