- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 31, 2005

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Comptroller William Donald Schaefer yesterday voiced vehement opposition to renaming Baltimore-Washington International Airport after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

“This is wrong, and it shouldn’t be done,” Mr. Schaefer, a Democrat, said during a Board of Public Works meeting. “I know why it is not politically wise to oppose this and so does everybody else.”

Mr. Schaefer, a former governor and Baltimore mayor, abstained in a board vote for allotting $2 million in state funds to change the facility’s name to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

The board’s other members — Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, and state Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, a Democrat — approved allotting the funds, and the measure passed 2-0.

Delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr., Baltimore County Democrat, had proposed renaming the airport to honor the Baltimore native who was denied entry to a Maryland law school but became the first black U.S. Supreme Court justice. The General Assembly approved the change this year.

Yesterday, Mr. Burns appeared before the board to support his plan, and Mr. Schaefer told him that Justice Marshall did not deserve another honor in his home state.

The comptroller said Justice Marshall snubbed Baltimore by not attending the unveiling of the Thurgood Marshall statue at the city’s Edward A. Garmatz Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse and the opening of the Thurgood Marshall Law Library at the University of Maryland Law School in Baltimore.

“I’m not here to defend that,” Mr. Burns said. “I’m here to defend the good he did for the nation.”

Justice Marshall — who argued the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case, the Supreme Court’s landmark decision that ended school segregation — died in 1993.

After yesterday’s board meeting, Mr. Burns said he did not take offense at Mr. Schaefer’s comments.

“He’s a good man,” Mr. Burns said. “[But] he seemed to have a personal vendetta of some sort [against Justice Marshall]. He should get over it.”

Mrs. Kopp said she empathized with Justice Marshall’s grudge against the town that spurned him.

“He would be less than human if he didn’t have those feelings,” she said.

Mr. Schaefer had his own renaming plans, saying the airport should be named after former Baltimore Mayor Thomas L.J. D’Alesandro III.

“It should be D’Alesandro because he built the airport. Everybody forgets that,” Mr. Schaefer said.

Mr. Ehrlich, who helped win legislative passage of the plan, tried to placate Mr. Schaefer — a key Ehrlich supporter.

“I think it is appropriate that we honor Thurgood Marshall,” he said. “I think it is appropriate we honor Tommy D’Alesandro.”

The governor requested and received Mr. Burns’ pledge to sponsor legislation for a D’Alesandro memorial.

“That’s the last we’ll hear of that,” Mr. Schaefer said.

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