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Gov. Gavin Newsom signs AB 1936 into law (Photo: gov.ca.gov)

UC Hastings Files Motion of Dismissal for Suit Trying to Block College Name Change

If successful, motion would allow Hastings College of the Law to change name next year

By Evan Symon, November 4, 2022 2:30 am

A lawsuit seeking to overturn the renaming of the University of California Hastings College of the Law to the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco, was challenged in court this week by University officials, saying that overturning it would violate the University’s free speech rights.

Since the late 2010’s, there has been a movement to change the name of UC Hastings due to the racist past of the college’s namesake, Serranus Clinton Hastings. Between 1856 and 1859, a string of genocidal acts were committed in what is now Mendocino County, with the incidents now known as the Round Valley Settler Massacres. According to multiple contemporary reports, a ranch owner and former California Supreme Court Justice, Hastings, contributed to the massacres. Two decades later, in 1878, Hastings gave $100,000 to help build a new college in San Francisco, with college officials naming it after Hastings in gratitude. Hastings was also offered and accepted the role as the inaugural Dean of the college.

Attorney Harmeet Dhillon. (Photo: Center for American Liberty)

In the 2010’s, professors began reporting on Hastings past again in papers, and in 2020, a UC Hastings study gave a full story on their founder’s past. Later that year, the George Floyd incident sparked numerous institution renamings across the country. Numerous former Hastings alumni and politicians advocated for a name change. This sparked both UC Hastings to agree to a name change and a bill, AB 1936, was written, passed, and signed into law this year.

However, only days after being signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, numerous school alumni and members of Hastings family filed a lawsuit to block the name change. In the suit they argued that Hastings played no role in the massacres, and that the name change amounts to a breach of contract since Hastings made a donation in 1878 so the school would bear his name in perpetuity.

“Hastings, a lifelong Democrat, was a giant in California history, our first California Chief Justice, and like many founding figures, is the latest victim of activists rewriting history to fit a contemporary agenda, with scant factual basis, no due process, and the ends justifying the means,” attorney Harmeet Dhillon, who represents the plaintiffs, said in a statement last month. “In his time, Hastings was a civil rights leader and neither he, nor his descendants or the graduates of this fine institution, deserve the smear job orchestrated by politicians for their own purposes.”

Name change in jeopardy

With the name change now in jeopardy, and a lot riding on the suit due to the amount that name and logo changes would cost University-wide, the University filed a motion to dismiss on Wednesday. In the motion they note that all of the school’s actions having to do with a name change are protected under free speech rights, and counters that Hastings never had any sort of contract with the state for his name to be attached to the school, with the plaintiffs not having to do anything with it.

“The writing on which they base their claim is a statute, not a contract, and that statute contains nothing like the clear and unmistakable language required for a court to conclude that legislation creates contract rights,” the College said on Wednesday.

In response, Dhillon added on Thursday that they will oppose the motion at a hearing set for next month.

“We’re at the beginning of a multi-stage process here,” explained Dhillon.

With the University name change originally set for next year, the lawsuit has become a race against time for both sides.

“One side wants to stop the name change or at least put a hold on the name change until this is sorted out, which is not good for the College. And the College wants the name to change over next years, which is what the  family and many alumnus don’t want,” said one alumnus of the law school who wished to remain anonymous. “At the very least though, it should be investigated. Did Hastings really do all that, and does what he did constitute a name change? All there were were a few papers on it and no serious look into it. It seemed hasty, and was part of the whole renaming things after people we’ve had happen in the last few years. If it really warrants a change, then it can. But right now, they aren’t making a great case to changing it. At least this is how a lot of alumni feel.”

Both sides are set to meet in court in December.

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3 thoughts on “UC Hastings Files Motion of Dismissal for Suit Trying to Block College Name Change

  1. SO SICK of leftists and their symbolic trivia. Their pretend virtue is nauseating.
    But watch, you won’t see them try to change the name of prestigious Stanford University. $$Donor gifts$$ would drop like a rock and they don’t want that, do they.

  2. Agree 100% Showandtell…

    This is exactly like the summer of 2020 when,these same wokesters were toppling statues nationwide for no good reason, except to virtue signal…

    1. …And they were 90% rent-a-mobs of the Dem/Progressive bullies. Thanks for reminding us about 2020 “summer of love” because that was real terrorism, by the way, not the fake stuff the Dems falsely invoke about conservatives. In summer of 2020 gun sales skyrocketed because ordinary residents were terrified that the mobs would come crashing through the windows of their homes because of whipped-up fake hysteria of the rent-a-mobs leading to violence, looting, arson, attacks on police, etc., which residents had been witnessing happening in their cities.

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