Students at one of the most liberal universities in the D.C. area tried to “cancel” Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas from his side gig as a lecturer in constitutional law.
But the political attack backfired.
Officials at George Washington University stepped in to defend Thomas from the woke mob – and ensured the community that free speech was alive and well.
“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,” provost Christopher Bracey and Law Dean Dayna Bowen Matthew said in a message to the campus community.
The Supreme Court’s conservative majority has come under fire from the left after a series of rulings on guns, prayer, and abortion.
That last issue in particular drew the ire of the students at the university, where nearly 70 percent identify themselves as either “liberal” or “very liberal” according to one poll, which also found just 12 percent of the students to be Republicans.
Thomas, in a concurring opinion, not only joined the majority to overturn Roe v. Wade, but also suggested the court revisit a series of other rulings – including gay marriage.
More than 7,500 people had signed an online petition demanding that Thomas be fired as a result, saying he “has stripped the right to bodily autonomy of people with wombs, and with his explicit intention to further strip the rights of queer people and remove the ability for people to practice safe sex without fear of pregnancy.”
The petition called his decade-long employment at the university “completely unacceptable” and ripped his wife for “the attempted coup in January of 2021.”
Student Jon Kay told the GW Hatchet – the campus paper – that he created the petition on Sunday.
“I think that it’s unacceptable that he’s on campus because this decision and then the three decisions that he’s actively going after explicitly are actively endangering the lives of the students on campus,” he said.
The university’s medical departments also slammed the ruling on abortion in a joint statement, predicting it “will have serious and irreparable negative consequences for the health of women, children, and communities across the country.”
The statement called the decision to have an abortion “deeply personal” and said that women should make it with the help of a trusted doctor.
Now, they warned, doctors in many areas won’t be able to help.
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“Today’s decision disrupts the oath of physicians and health care providers to provide care that, first and foremost, honors personal autonomy and the unwavering commitment to provide care with safe and effective therapies,” the statement said.
In the new statement, the university further distanced itself from Thomas’ views.
“Justice Thomas’ views do not represent the views of either the George Washington University or its Law School,” school officials wrote.
But they said those who disagree with him should handle it the way disagreements on universities are supposed to be handled: via discussion and debate.
“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,” Bracey and Matthew wrote.
The university’s College Republicans chapter celebrated the decision.
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“GW College Republicans applauds the University’s announcement today and their commitment to diversity of thought. We deeply agree with the University’s opinion that it is not their role to shield students from ideas they might disagree with,” the organization said. “The free exchange of ideas is integral to our society and to our education. We look forward to the University continuing to uphold its mission of academic freedom.”