Serranus Hastings, victim of cancel culture? + Malia Cohen launches big ad buy

UC Hastings College of Law

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The descendants of former California Supreme Court Chief Justice Serranus Hastings are suing the state for breach of contract and deprivation of civil rights after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill removing their ancestor’s name from the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco.

In 1878, Hastings donated $100,000 in gold coins to the state treasury to establish the college, and he served as its first dean. The college’s name was enshrined in state law until this September, when Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1936 into law, making the removal of Hastings’ name official.

“As we lift up the rich history and contributions of California’s diverse tribal communities today, the state recommits to building on the strides we have made to redress historical wrongs and help empower Native communities,” Newsom said in a statement at the time.

The bill signing was the culmination of years of scrutiny on the college’s namesake, who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds Native American men, women and children as part of a militia campaign against California tribes, according to multiple historians. In 2021, the New York Times published a report detailing the allegations against Hastings.

The bill’s author, Assemblyman James Ramos, D-Highland, whose own clan was nearly exterminated by militias in the San Bernardino Mountains, said in a statement that the bill “acknowledges a past wrong and takes steps toward healing a painful chapter for the Yuki and Round Valley people. The events of the past cannot be undone, but hopefully this piece of legislation will bring about meaningful changes.”

Scott Hastings Breeze, a descendant of Serranus Hastings, disagrees with the portrayal of his ancestor as a committer of genocide.

“While AB 1936 convicts Serranus Hastings of killing Native Americans in the court of public opinion, this is false,” he said. “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.”

The plaintiffs are being represented by Dhillon Law Group and Michael Yamamoto, along with the Center for American Liberty. In a press release announcing the lawsuit, the center called Hastings the latest victim of “cancel culture.”

“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 Harmeet K. Dhillon, a Republican operative and CEO of the Center for American Liberty. “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.”

The plaintiffs seek to block the law from going into effect. Failing that, the Hastings family wants the state to repay the $100,000 that their ancestor paid in 1878 plus interest.

AB 1936 is set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023, unless otherwise ordered by a judge.


The campaign for Democratic California State Controller candidate Malia Cohen, who currently chairs the California State Board of Equalization, has announced a six-figure ad buy painting her Republican opponent, Lanhee Chen, as a threat to abortion rights in California.

The ad features registered nurse Joy Ceniza, who says she’s voting for Cohen as controller because that position oversees funding for reproductive health organizations like Planned Parenthood.

“And Republicans like Lanhee Chen put abortion access at risk, even in California. Chen supports the Trump Republicans who are pushing a national abortion ban and refuses to support the amendment to enshrine the right to abortion in the California Constitution,” Ceniza says in the ad.

The controller serves as the state’s chief fiscal officer, accountant and bookkeeper for all public funds. In addition, the controller administers the state payroll system and unclaimed property laws, and conducts audits and reviews of state operations.

The controller also sits on the Board of Equalization, the Board of Control, and other boards and commissions.

While Chen has voiced support for abortion rights and says he did not vote for President Donald Trump in either 2016 or 2020, the Cohen campaign points out that he supported the Trump appointments of Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court; both justices would go on to vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“Quite frankly, my opponent’s record on protecting the right to abortion services is concerning,” Cohen said in a statement. “He was not only an advocate for Donald Trump’s appointed Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade, but has also spent nearly two decades working to elect Republicans who are attempting to pass a national ban on abortion and he refuses to support Proposition 1. This is the biggest threat to women’s rights that we’ve seen in a generation. We need someone who will stand up to protect our personal health care decisions and ensure California meets its commitment to protecting reproductive freedom.”

In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board, Chen said he supports enshrining the right to abortion and contraception in the California constitution. But he added that he does have “specific concerns” about the way Proposition 1 was written.

In response to the ad, Chen campaign manager Matt Ciepielowski released the following statement:

“No one should be surprised that career politician Malia Cohen is lying about Lanhee Chen’s pro-choice position. He has been very clear that as controller he would have neither the power nor inclination to restrict access to abortion or reproductive health services. Malia can’t defend her record of personal financial failure, advocacy for higher gas taxes, and support for gutting Prop 13, so she is resorting to spreading falsehoods about Lanhee.”

You can watch the ad here.


“My question is, when does negative campaigning go too far? 1. Giving out personal addresses, 2. Attacking family members/children, 3. Bold face lies.”

- Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, via Twitter.

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  • The application for the Biden administration’s federal student loan forgiveness plan hasn’t opened yet — but it’s expected sometime in October, with some changes to eligibility, via Jacqueline Pinedo.

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  • In 2016, Californians voted to legalize recreational adult-use marijuana. Proponents of Proposition 64, including then-Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, argued that it would generate massive revenue, while decreasing illicit cannabis and drug cartel activity in the state. Now, nearly six years later, it’s clear that promise has not been kept, via Andrew Sheeler.