Posted on October 7, 2022

California Law School Sued by Namesake’s Descendants Over Name Change

Bradford Betz, Fox News, October 6, 2022

A group of alumni from the University of California Hastings College of the Law and descendants of its namesake, Serranus Hastings, filed a lawsuit against the state and the school Tuesday in response to Gov. Gavin Newsom signing a bill that authorized changing the school’s name.

Hastings, a California Supreme Court Justice, founded the school in 1878, but some historians allege he was complicit in the killings of Native Americans.

On Sept. 30, Newsom, a Democrat, signed AB 1936, which was sponsored by Assemblymember James C. Ramos. The bill redesignates the University of California’s Hastings of the Law as the College of the Law, San Francisco.

The law also outlined several “restorative justice initiatives” for Round Valley Indian Tribes and Yuki people whose ancestors — according to Newsom’s office — “suffered mass killings and other atrocities funded and supported by college founder Serranus Hastings in the mid-19th century.”


The lawsuit disputes AB 1936’s portrayal of Hastings, saying there is no direct evidence of him committing atrocities against Native Americans.


The lawsuit alleges that the name change breaches an agreement between the State of California and Hastings, when he gave it $100,000 in gold to establish the school. Per the agreement, Hastings would serve as its inaugural dean, an heir or representative would always hold a seat on the school’s board of directors, and it would forever be called the “Hastings College of the Law,” according to the lawsuit.