Florida lawmakers will again consider a proposal aimed at removing the name of former state Supreme Court Chief Justice B.K. Roberts from the building that houses the Florida State University College of Law.
Rep. Ramon Alexander, a Tallahassee Democrat, filed a bill (HB 977) on Monday that would repeal a 1973 law that named the building after Roberts.
A panel appointed by university President John Thrasher recommended in 2018 that Roberts’ name be removed because of opinions supporting segregation in the 1950s. Thrasher accepted the recommendation, writing that Roberts “left a complicated legacy.”
Thrasher wrote that Roberts played key roles in creating the university’s College of Law, restructuring the state’s courts and being an architect of the public-defender system.
“His significant contributions stand in stark contrast to a more troublesome legacy,” Thrasher wrote. “As a Florida Supreme Court justice B.K. Roberts wrote pro-segregation opinions in the 1950s, including, in particular, a majority opinion that refused to obey a U.S. Supreme Court ruling to allow a Black man to enroll in the University of Florida College of Law.”
The university needs legislative approval to remove the name because of the 1973 law. A bill that would have given such approval cleared two Senate committees during the 2020 Legislative Session but then died. Alexander’s bill is filed for the 2021 Legislative Session, which will start March 2.
Republished with permission from the News Service of Florida.