The statue of George Mason at George Mason University, Aug. 27, 2015 in Fairfax, Va. 
Photo by Pete Marovich For The Washington Post/Getty

George Mason University to rename law school for Antonin Scalia

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has earned a high honor: George Mason University announced the renaming of its law school — known for its conservative legal teaching — after the late jurist.

The move, which was approved by the school’s Board of Visitors on Thursday, will still require the green light from Virginia’s higher education oversight agency. A name change ceremony isn’t expected until the fall.

Officials at the Fairfax, Virginia-based school said the new moniker is part of a $30 million donation to George Mason. An anonymous donor who gave $20 million required the name change as part of the gift; the other $10 million was provided by billionaire conservative activist Charles Koch.

Scalia was a guest lecturer at George Mason before his death in February, and spoke at the dedication of the law school building in 1999.

This largest infusion of cash in the school’s history is going toward the creation of new scholarships.

“This is a milestone moment for the university,” university President Ángel Cabrera said in a statement. “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.”

In a statement, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg praised the tribute to her friend, Scalia, whose 30 years on the bench of the nation’s highest court as a conservative stalwart was marked by controversial remarks.

George Mason was named after a founding father who famously refused to sign the Constitution.

“It is a tribute altogether fitting that George Mason University’s law school will bear his name,” Ginsburg said. “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.”

President Barack Obama has nominated federal judge Merrick Garland to replace Scalia as the ninth justice. Republican leadership, however, has pledged to hold up the nomination process, arguing the next president should choose Scalia’s successor. 

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