Law School Name Committee

Dean Lee Fisher's Message to the Law School ComMunity
November 17, 2022

Dear Law College Community,

Below is a message from Cleveland State University President Laura Bloomberg announcing that earlier today, the Cleveland State University Board of Trustees voted to remove the name “Cleveland-Marshall” from the College of Law. Our college will now be known as the CSU College of Law.

As President Bloomberg notes, the Board reached its decision following an extensive and comprehensive process that included review by a special University ad hoc committee of the Law School Name Committee Report that I submitted to the University earlier this year. The University ad hoc committee unanimously recommended the removal of the name “Marshall,” and in September President Bloomberg submitted that recommendation to the Board with her endorsement. I also voiced my support of the recommendation.

The Law School Name Committee, which I appointed in the summer of 2020, consisted of law students, alumni, faculty, and staff members. The Committee was charged with seeking wide input and developing findings and options for whether “Marshall” should be removed from the Law College’s name. The careful, thoughtful, deliberate process of the Law School Name Committee modeled what we teach our law students, including the importance of due diligence, due process, inclusiveness, transparency, and the need to listen to, respect, and understand the viewpoints of others.

The Law School Name Committee met over 18 months, and sought wide and deep input from all Law College constituencies. The Name Committee created a Law School Name Website and comprehensive resource materials on institutional name change issues: the Law School Name Resource Guide. The process included six virtual public forums which included nationally prominent speakers from universities which have dealt with similar naming issues, a 45-page Law School Name Framing Document that presented different views on the Law College name issue, and an online survey sent to over 4,000 Law College alumni, students, faculty, and staff as well as CSU and Cleveland legal community members.

I support the CSU Board's decision. We cannot ignore the reality that Chief Justice John Marshall bought and sold hundreds of slaves throughout his adult life, and unlike many of his contemporaries like George Washington, did not free any of his slaves; nor can we ignore his troubling beliefs, statements, and actions relating to slavery. His actions and views are contrary to the shared values of our Law College and the University - an unwavering commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

My view is that changing our Law College name is not about erasing history; it is about understanding the inherent complexity of our history and reckoning with that history in the context of our present-day values. Chief Justice John Marshall’s contributions to American jurisprudence are significant and enduring, and his writings, decisions, and judicial legacy will continue to be an important part of our curriculum and the education of all CSU College of Law students, but we need to recognize the distinction between history and bestowing honor. Naming rights are a highly cherished honor that should be reserved for those whose actions are consistent with the shared present day values of the Law College and University and those with the strongest ties to our Law College – either through their service or their philanthropy. The fact is neither Chief Justice Marshall nor his ancestors have any ties to Cleveland, CSU, or our Law College.

 I respect that some of you will disagree with the CSU Board’s decision and my views, but I hope that those on all sides of this issue will respect the careful process that both the Law College and the University undertook. I am very appreciative that the vast majority of our alumni, students, staff, and faculty with whom I have communicated have agreed with this inclusive and deliberative approach regardless of their views on the issue.

 As President Bloomberg states in her below message, I hope we can all move forward in agreement that the true value and strength of our College of Law lies in the high quality of the education we offer and the talents and diversity of our students, faculty, staff and alumni. That will never change.


My best,
Lee Fisher
Dean, Cleveland State University College of Law

CSU President Laura Bloomberg's Message to the CSU Community
 November 17, 2022

Dear Campus Community,

Earlier today, the Cleveland State University Board of Trustees voted to remove the name Cleveland-Marshall from the College of Law. The college will be known as the CSU College of Law.

For those who may not be familiar with its history, the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law was named in part after U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall. CSU inherited the name when it acquired the school in 1969. The name Cleveland-Marshall College of Law was the result of a merger of the John Marshall College of Law and the Cleveland Law School in 1946.

While Chief Justice John Marshall’s contributions to American jurisprudence are significant and will continue to be an important part of our curriculum, his ownership of slaves and his beliefs and actions relating to slavery are contrary to the values of our University and a disservice to our community.

 The Board reached its decision following comprehensive reviews by the Law School Name Committee, appointed and chaired by Dean Lee Fisher, and a special ad hoc committee formed in accordance with our Space, Unit and Entity Naming Policy. The ad hoc committee unanimously recommended the removal of the name Marshall, and in September, I submitted that recommendation to the Board with my endorsement.

 This was a consequential decision, and I thank the Board for its careful consideration. I am proud of the thorough, inclusive process we undertook as a community of scholars to carefully gather and consider the views of our students, alumni, faculty, staff and the broader community.

I understand that this has been an emotional issue for many members of our community. I hope we can all move forward in agreement that the true value and strength of our College of Law lies not in a name, but in the quality of education we offer and the talents and diversity of our students, faculty, staff and alumni.


Laura Bloomberg, PhD


Cleveland State University Board of Trustees RESOLUTION 2022-64
Novemeber 17, 2022



On February 28, 2022, Dean Lee Fisher submitted the Summary of Findings and Information on the Law School Name Issue as well as 16 Exhibits to then CSU Provost Laura Bloomberg.

The primary issue before the University is whether to remove the reference to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall from the name of Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University (“Law School”). In short, should the University keep the existing Law School name or change the Law School name? The secondary issue is what the new name of the Law School should be if the University decides to change the name of the Law School.

While the ultimate authority for deciding whether to change the name of the Law School rests at the University level, our Law School has a responsibility to provide our University partners with as much relevant information as possible so that an informed decision can be made. Accordingly, Dean Fisher prepared the Summary of Findings and Information on the Law School Name Issue which reflects careful study and research of the issue for 18 months, the input of scholarly expertise, and the wide diversity of views and feedback from Law School students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community members. Many of those views are deeply and powerfully felt and have been passionately articulated.

The Dean’s Summary includes:

  • Background and historical context
  • The separate recommendations of the Law School Faculty and the Law School Name Committee
  • Summary of online Stakeholder Feedback
  •  A summary of the substantial research that was undertaken by the Name Committee including:
  •  A 45-page Law School Name Framing Document
  • Links to six Public Forums
  • An extensive Resource Guide
  •  Exhibits containing more detailed information.


In the summer of 2020, we learned about a petition urging CSU Cleveland-Marshall and UIC John Marshall Law School to remove any reference to Chief Justice John Marshall in our law schools’ names because of Chief Justice Marshall’s association with slavery. Dean Fisher formed a Law School Name Committee consisting of faculty, staff, students, and alumni to seek wide input, develop findings and options, and make a recommendation for consideration about whether “Marshall,” named after Chief Justice John Marshall, should be removed from our Law School’s name, and if so, a recommendation about the new name of our Law School. 

Dean Fisher has publicly noted that we must take the petition to change the name of our law school and the spirit in which it was written very seriously. Our law school rejects and condemns racism in all its forms - overt, covert, and systemic, and we accept our responsibility to evaluate our role in perpetuating racism, whether it is conscious or unconscious.

The Committee decided to host some forums during the 2021 spring semester to provide context to the issue of whether “Marshall” should be removed from our law school name. 

These forums were not intended to directly deal with the question of whether we should change our name or to advocate for any particular viewpoint. Rather, the purpose was to better understand how historians view institutional name changes and how other institutions have approached similar issues. The forums intentionally presented differing views and opinions on this subject. We may hold additional forums during the fall 2021 semester.

Removing “Marshall” from our law school’s name would be a very consequential decision by the College of Law and Cleveland State University that requires careful study and thoughtful consideration of different viewpoints from our entire law school and university community. The legacy of Chief Justice John Marshall is complex and we are drawing on scholarly expertise to explore and examine that legacy as a part of our process.

We are an historic institution and are very proud of our iconic history. The Cleveland-Marshall College of Law is the direct descendant of two law schools, the Cleveland Law School founded in 1897, and the John Marshall School of Law, founded in 1916. In 1946, the two law schools merged to become Cleveland-Marshall Law School. In 1969, the law school joined Cleveland State University and was renamed the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University. We consistently have been the law school for many women and men who have broken gender, race, ethnic, economic, and generational barriers to make change and advance progress in social justice, civil rights, and public service.

In considering a name change, we will incorporate wide input and will be guided by our proud history, our guiding values, our law school’s mission Learn Law. Live Justice, and the values and mission of Cleveland State University.

Past Public Forums

November 23, 2021

Community Town Hall Forum on Law School Name

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November 19, 2021

Law School Name Student Town Hall 

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November 17, 2021

Community Town Hall Forum on Law School Name

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Tuesday, April 27, 5pm EST

The Legacy of Chief Justice John Marshall

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Guest Panelists:

Paul Finkelman

President, Gratz College; Author, Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court

Paul Finkelman became the president of Gratz College in 2017. He received his B.A. in American Studies from Syracuse University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago. He was later a Fellow in Law and Humanities at Harvard Law School, where he also taught one course.

Before coming to Gratz, he taught in history departments and law schools at a number of universities including Duke Law School, LSU Law Center, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Texas. Most importantly, he held the Baker and Hostetler Chair at Cleveland Marshall Law School. 

He was the lead expert witness in the case against Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore that forced the removal of a gigantic Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Supreme Court Building. He was also the chief expert witness in the lawsuit over the ownership of Barry Bonds’ 73rd home run ball. He is the author of more than 200 scholarly articles and the author or editor of more than fifty books. 

In 2018 Harvard University Press published his book Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court. The U.S. Supreme Court has cited him in 5 decisions involving civil rights, affirmative action, and the bill of rights.


Professor Kevin Walsh

University of Richmond Law School; President, John Marshall Center for Constitutional History & Civics

Kevin Walsh is Professor of Law at the University of Richmond School of Law, where he teaches and writes about federal jurisdiction and constitutional adjudication. He is the President of the John Marshall Center for Constitutional History and Civics. In addition to his conventional law review publications in venues such as the Stanford Law Review and NYU Law Review, Kevin has curated exhibits on John Marshall’s life and legacy for the National Constitution Center and the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.

Forum Co-Moderators:
C|M|LAW Dean Lee Fisher, 
 Judge Ron Adrine '73, and C|M|LAW Professor David Forte

Friday, April 23, 12 noon EST

Guiding Principles for Naming an Institution

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Guest Panelists:

Erwin Chemerinsky

Dean, UC Berkeley School of Law, Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law

Erwin Chemerinsky is the Dean of Berkeley Law and the Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law. Prior to assuming this position, from 2008-2017, he was the founding Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law at University of California, Irvine School of Law. He is the author of fourteen books, including leading casebooks and treatises about constitutional law, criminal procedure, and federal jurisdiction. His most recent books are The Religion Clauses: The Case for Separating Church and State , and Presumed Guilty: How the Supreme Court Empowered the Police and Subverted Civil Rights (to be published by Norton in 2021).He also is the author of more than 250 law review articles. He frequently argues appellate cases, including in the United States Supreme Court. In 2017, National Jurist magazine again named Dean Chemerinsky as the most influential person in legal education in the United States. In January 2021, he was named President-elect of the Association of American Law Schools.

Professor Allen Guelzo

Director, Initiative on Politics and Statesmanship, James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton University

Dr. Allen C. Guelzo is the Senior Research Scholar in the Council of the Humanities and Director of the Initiative on Politics and Statesmanship in the James Madison Program at Princeton University. He is the author of Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President (1999), Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America (2004), Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America (2008) and Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction (2012). His book on the battle of Gettysburg, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion was a New York Times best seller in 2013. He has produced six lecture series for The Teaching Company, on topics ranging from Mr. Lincoln to The American Revolution to (most recently) America’s Founding Fathers. His most recent book is Reconstruction: A Concise History (Oxford University Press, 2018) and he is currently at work on a biography of Robert E. Lee.

Dr. Danielle Moretti-Langholtz

Thomasina E. Jordan Director of the American Indian Resource Center, William & Mary University

Danielle Moretti-Langholtz is the Thomasina E. Jordan Director of the American Indian Resource Center in the Department of Anthropology at William & Mary. A cultural anthropologist with a doctorate from the University of Oklahoma, she is the administrator of the interdisciplinary Native Studies minor, and teaches a variety of courses on indigenous history and culture. Additionally, she serves as the Curator of Native American Art at the Muscarelle Museum of Art on William & Mary’s campus. 

Forum Co-Moderators:
C|M|LAW Dean Lee Fisher, C|M|LAW Professor David Forte

March 22, 2021


View Event Video

Guest Panelists:

Professor Garrett Epps

Professor Garrett Epps is Legal Affairs Editor of The Washington Monthly. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Baltimore School of Law. He has also taught Constitutional Law at American University, Boston College, Duke, and the University of Oregon. His books include Democracy Reborn: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Fight for Civil Rights in Post-Civil War America and American Epic: Reading the US Constitution.



Professor Jacqueline Jones 

Professor Jacqueline Jones is President of the American Historical Association and the Ellen C. Temple Professor of Women’s History and Mastin Gentry White Professor of Southern History at the University of Texas at Austin, where she teaches courses in American history. Before coming to UT, she taught at Wellesley College, Brown University, and Brandeis University. She is president of the American Historical Association. She was a MacArthur Fellow from 1999 to 2004. Jones is the author of several books, including A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race from the Colonial Era to Obama’s America.

Professor Ashley N. Woodson

Professor Ashley N. Woodson is the Assistant Director of the National Center of Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan. Prior to this appointment, she served in the Center for Urban Education at the University of Pittsburgh, and the Carter Center for K-12 Black History Education at the University of Missouri. She is co-editor of the volume, The Future Is Black: Afropessimism, Fugitivity and Radical Hope in Education with Carl A. Grant and Michael Dumas.


Forum Co-Moderators:
C|M|LAW Dean Lee Fisher, Terry Billups ’05 , C|M|LAW Professor Reggie Oh


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