Paul L. Caron
Dean




Wednesday, June 29, 2022

George Washington Refuses To Fire Justice Thomas, Who Has Co-Taught A Course For A Decade; His Views 'Do Not Represent Those Of The University Or Its Law School'

George Washington Hatchet, Supreme Court Justice to Remain at GW Law After Thousands Call For His Removal:

George Washington Law Logo (2020)Officials announced GW Law will not fire Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas after more than 6,000 people signed a petition calling for his termination after he voted to overturn Roe v. Wade and end federal abortion protections.

Provost Christopher Bracey and GW Law Dean Dayna Bowen Matthew said in an email Tuesday that employing Thomas will allow students to exchange ideas and that debate is essential to the University’s educational mission to train students to address the world’s problems. Rising junior Jon Kay started a petition calling on officials to remove Thomas from his teaching role at GW on Sunday, and it has since amassed more than 6,000 signatures.

“Because debate is an essential part of our University’s academic and educational mission to train future leaders who are prepared to address the world’s most urgent problems, the University will neither terminate Justice Thomas’ employment nor cancel his class,” Bracey and Matthew said in the email.

Thomas has lectured at GW Law since 2011, co-teaching a constitutional law seminar with his former clerk Gregory Maggs, and is set to teach that course again in the Fall 2022 semester, according to GW Law’s course catalog. ...

The email states while Thomas’ views “do not represent” the views of GW Law or the University as a whole, Thomas has “academic freedom and freedom of expression and inquiry” like all other faculty members. GW’s academic freedom guidelines, which officials quoted in the email, state it is not the University’s responsibility to “shield” individuals from opinions they may find offensive.

Christopher Alan Bracey (Provost) & Dayna Bowen Matthew (Dean), Email:

Dear Members of the George Washington University Community,

Since the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, we have heard from members of our community who have expressed feelings of deep disagreement with this decision.

We also have received requests from some members of the university and external communities that the university terminate its employment of Adjunct Professor and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and cancel the Constitutional Law Seminar that he teaches at the Law School.

Many of the requests cite Justice Thomas’ concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which he called the substantive due process doctrine a “legal fiction.” Justice Thomas has been a consistent critic of the Court’s legal philosophy on substantive due process for many years. Because we steadfastly support the robust exchange of ideas and deliberation, and because debate is an essential part of our university’s academic and educational mission to train future leaders who are prepared to address the world’s most urgent problems, the university will neither terminate Justice Thomas’ employment nor cancel his class in response to his legal opinions.

Justice Thomas’ views do not represent the views of either the George Washington University or its Law School. Additionally, like all faculty members at our university, Justice Thomas has academic freedom and freedom of expression and inquiry. Our university’s academic freedom guidelines state: “The ideas of different faculty members and of various other members of the University community will often and quite naturally conflict. But it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals within or outside the University from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.”

Just as we affirm our commitment to academic freedom, we affirm the right of all members of our community to voice their opinions and contribute to the critical discussions that are foundational to our academic mission.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2022/06/george-washington-refuses-to-fire-justice-thomas-who-has-co-taught-a-con-law-course-for-a-decade.html

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