Tuesday, December 6, 2022

After Student Criticism, Clarence Thomas Is ‘Unavailable’ to Teach at George Washington This Fall

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Justice Clarence Thomas will no longer teach a constitutional-law class this fall after thousands signed a petition calling for him to be removed from his teaching position at the George Washington University Law School.

According to an email the student newspaper, The GW Hatchet, obtained that was sent to students by Gregory Maggs, Thomas’s co-lecturer in the class, Thomas is “unavailable” to co-teach the class this fall. Students have criticized the university for employing Thomas, citing his recent vote as part of the Supreme Court’s majority in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the constitutional right to an abortion. They also cited decades-old allegations of sexual assault and harassment against him, which he has denied.

Students also criticized Thomas’s comments in his concurring opinion in Dobbs, which recommended that the Supreme Court reconsider other landmark precedents, such as the one set by Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing same-sex marriage.

“With the recent Supreme Court decision that 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, it is evident that the employment of Clarence Thomas at George Washington University is completely unacceptable,” the petition states.

“The seminar has not been canceled, but I will now be the sole instructor,” Maggs wrote in his email, the Hatchet reported. “For those of you still interested in taking the course, I assure you that we will make the best of the new situation.”

After the petition gained several thousand signatures, the provost, Chris Bracey, sent an email to the student body stating that the university would not terminate Thomas’s employment at GW Law or cancel his class.

“Justice Thomas’ views do not represent the views of either the George Washington University or its Law School,” Bracey’s email states. “Additionally, like all faculty members at our university, Justice Thomas has academic freedom and freedom of expression and inquiry.”

Thomas has co-taught a constitutional-law seminar with Maggs, one of his former law clerks and now a judge, since 2011. Thomas is no longer listed as an instructor for the course.

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