Years before UC Hastings mulled renaming, Fil-Am chief justice junked founder’s name
Years before the University of California Hastings Law School officials voted to change the school’s name because the man it honors masterminded the displacement and mass killing of American Indians, California’s Filipino American Chief Justice had ditched his name.
San Francisco Chronicle’s Bob Egelko reports that after Tani Cantil-Sakauye became the 28th chief justice of the California Supreme Court, she learned that a computer research engine the court has used for years for online judicial education was named “Serranus,” after its first chief justice, Serranus Clinton Hastings.
A group of tribal court and state court leaders in 2015 alerted Cantil-Sakauye and the state Judicial Council to Hastings’ ignominious background and the court search engine’s name honoring him.
Hastings, a 19th century big landowner, bankrolled a three-year drive to remove Native Americans from parts of Mendocino County for white settlers. It became known as the Round Valley Settler Massacres, which killed more than 1,000 Yuki Indians and members of other tribes. Some survivors were enslaved.
Cantil-Sakauye had the search engine renamed. “I said, ‘We have to change that name,’” she told legal reporters at a recent meeting. The search engine became the Judicial Resource Network. “Names of things can sometimes end up tainting the work we do here,” she explained.
Hastings went on went on to become state attorney general, its initial chief justice, and founder of the University of California’s first law school, whose alumni include Vice President Kamala Harris and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. He used his wealth to found the school that would, by state law, “forever be known and designated as the Hastings College of the Law.”
However, the UC Hastings board of directors last month voted unanimously to work with state legislators to change the school’s name. Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, is working on the renaming bill.