Descendants of Serranus Hastings and Hastings Alumni Sue California to Challenge Renaming of Hastings Law School

San Francisco — The Dhillon Law Group and Michael Yamamoto LLP, in conjunction with the Center for American Liberty, and on behalf of the descendants of Serranus Hastings and the UC Hastings Conservation Committee, filed a lawsuit today in San Francisco Superior Court against the state and Hastings officials for breach of contract and deprivation of civil rights as a result of Governor Gavin Newsom’s signing of AB 1936 into law on Sept. 30, 2022, authorizing the renaming of The University of California, Hastings College of the Law in January, 2023.

UC Hastings was founded by the first Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, Serranus Clinton Hastings, through an agreement with the State of California, which was enshrined into state law, California Education Code, § 92200, et seq.

Hastings agreed to pay the State Treasury $100,000 in gold and to establish the College with Hastings serving as its first Dean. The State of California, in turn, agreed to fund the College a minimum amount in perpetuity; that the College “shall forever be known and designated as the Hastings College of the Law;” and that an heir or representative of Hastings would at all times have a seat on the College’s Board of Directors, the College’s governing body, which is independent from the Regents of the University of California.

“While AB 1936 convicts Serranus Hastings of killing Native Americans in the court of public opinion, this is false,” said descendent, Scott Hastings Breeze. “While a Justice in Iowa, Hastings nullified a federal court order to arrest an African American fleeing slavery. While a Justice in California, Hastings ruled in favor of Native Americans. Hastings fought to admit the first female law student in California into UC Hastings Law. Hastings wanted to make legal education available to people without money.”

Beginning in 2017, critics claimed in a poorly sourced opinion pieces that Hastings fomented and financed raids by State-run militia on Native Americans in the late 1850’s and early 1860’s, and that the College should consider changing its name. Although there is no direct evidence that Hastings desired, requested, or knowingly encouraged any atrocities against Native Americans, the accusations against Hastings soon snowballed into the latest woke revisionist project.

“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,” said the CEO of the Center for American Liberty, Harmeet K. Dhillon. “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.”

In the nearly 150 years since its founding, UC Hastings Law has educated tens of thousands of lawyers, including several past and present justices of the California Supreme Court; current Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris; founders of several internationally recognized law firms; and a multitude of federal, state, and local politicians and judges, with far-reaching influence on modern American law and politics. The Hastings name is worthy of respect, not erasure.

About the Center for American Liberty:

The Center for American Liberty is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to defending the civil liberties of Americans left behind by civil rights legacy organizations.

Founded by Harmeet K. Dhillon in 2018, the Center for American Liberty leverages its nationwide network of attorneys to zealously advocate for individual liberty and to combat illegal discrimination.

The Constitution guarantees individual liberty rights, but in today’s era there is a coordinated assault on our civil liberties from corporations, politicians, socialist revolutionaries, and inept or biased government officials. The Center for American Liberty is leading the fight against this assault on liberty by holding those who destroy our civil liberties accountable through the courts.

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