University Pushes Back on Calls for Clarence Thomas Ouster

George Washington University says SCOTUS justice can still teach there after outcry on Roe v. Wade
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2022 9:03 AM CDT
George Washington University: Thomas Can Still Teach Here
Clarence Thomas speaks at the University of Notre Dame near South Bend, Ind., on Sept. 16, 2021.   (Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via AP, File)

(Newser) – Many students at George Washington University aren't happy at the overturning of Roe v. Wade, or at Clarence Thomas' concurring opinion that takes aim at contraception and same-sex marriage—and are articulating that since the Supreme Court justice holds a teaching position at the school. And so a petition is circulating, with more than 8,000 signatures as of Thursday morning, seeking Thomas' ouster from the university's payroll, calling his role there "completely unacceptable." Citing both the part Thomas played in the Roe v. Wade ruling, as well as his wife, Ginni Thomas', ties to attempts to overturn the 2020 election, the petition notes that "Judge Thomas is actively making life unsafe for thousands of students on our campus (not to mention thousands of campuses across the country)."

Per Axios, however, the university isn't budging on Thomas' role as an adjunct professor and lecturer, putting out a Tuesday statement emailed campuswide saying he'll remain in those roles. Although the school says the justice's views "do not represent the views of either the George Washington University or its Law School," the university remains committed to "the robust exchange of ideas and deliberation" and Thomas' "academic freedom and freedom of expression and inquiry," per the statement. Therefore, the school asserts, it will "neither terminate [Justice] Thomas' employment nor cancel his class in response to his legal opinions."

It adds that it's "not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals ... from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive." GWU student Jon Kay, who jump-started the petition, tells WUSA9 that students should continue to protest, despite the university's statement. "It is not acceptable for Judge Thomas to be teaching students that he does not respect and does not believe have the same rights as straight people or the minority of men on campus," Kay says. "This isn't about ideological agreement, it's about a teacher having respect for his students." (Read more Clarence Thomas stories.)

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