George Washington University insisted Tuesday that they will continue to employ Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as an adjunct professor. The letter came in response to a petition for the university to fire Thomas over “the recent Supreme Court decision that has stripped the right to bodily autonomy of people with wombs.”
The university defended Thomas by saying he “has academic freedom and freedom of expression and inquiry,” like “all faculty members at our school.” The letter explained that “The ideas of different faculty members and of various other members of the University community will often 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.”
Thomas has been a lightning rod on the court since his appointment by President George H.W. Bush. The latest spate of anger against him came from his concurring opinion in the Dobbs case, which overturned Roe v. Wade and Casey, returning abortion law to the states. In his opinion, Thomas questioned the doctrine of substantive due process, which calls into question other Supreme Court decisions–namely the Obergefell decision, which legalized gay marriage in all 50 states.
The letter made it clear that Justice Thomas’s position on substantive due process does not reflect the opinion of the George Washington University School of Law but that the school’s positions and that of professors will diverge at points, Fox News reports. They said, “The ideas of different faculty members and of various other members of the University community will often 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.”
The petition also took aim at Ginni Thomas, Justice Thomas’ wife, saying she took part in the “attempted coup in January of 2021.” It further alleged that he is “making life unsafe for thousands of students on our campus.”
George Washington University administration sought to foster debate on both sides of the issue in their response. While not condoning Thomas’ opinions, they asserted that “debate is an essential part of our university’s academic and educational mission.” They also defended the right of students to object to Thomas’ opinions, saying they “affirm the right of all members of our communities to voice their opinions.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Drew Angerer/Staff
Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”