U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas will not be teaching this fall at George Washington University’s law school.
According to the university, Thomas was going to teach constitutional law seminar aimed at helping students get “a more complete story” of famous Supreme Court cases by exploring “additional facts” about the social and political context surrounding the court’s decisions. The course has been co-taught since 2011 with Greg Maggs, a professor who clerked for Thomas and retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.
In a message obtained by student newspaper The GW Hatchet, Maggs reportedly told the class that Thomas would be “unavailable” to teach in the upcoming fall semester.
“Unfortunately, I am writing with some sad news: Justice Thomas has informed me that he is unavailable to co-teach the seminar this fall,” the professor reportedly wrote. “I know that this is disappointing. I am very sorry.”
In a statement to The Epoch Times, GW spokesperson Josh Grossman confirmed that Thomas informed the law school that he won’t be teaching this fall, but didn’t provide any further details on the decision, such as who made the decision, or whether the justice would return to teaching in future semesters.
The U.S. Supreme Court didn’t respond to a request for comment. Maggs couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
A Strong Conservative Voice
Meanwhile, the GW Law’s list of instructors no longer includes Thomas. Law school administrators previously resisted the call to remove the justice from the teaching position because of his opinion on abortion.
On June 24, Thomas joined in a 6-3 conservative majority to overrule the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which had legalized abortion at a national level. The new decision doesn’t outlaw abortion, but instead hands the question of abortion access back to individual states.
In his concurring opinion, Thomas suggested that the high court should “reconsider” cases that were decided by the same logic that Roe was originally decided, including Lawrence v. Texas of 2003, which decriminalized consensual gay sex; and Obergefell v. Hodges of 2015, which established a constitutional right to gay marriage.
The mere suggestion that the high court should revisit these decisions motivated progressive students at GW to circulate an online petition calling for Thomas’s removal from the law faculty.
“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,” read the petition.
“Make your voice heard and help us kick Clarence Thomas out of Foggy Bottom,” the petition reads. The effort has garnered over 11,000 supporting signatures, still short of its 15,000 goal.
While the departure of Thomas certainly satisfies the progressive-minded students, the GW chapter of College Republicans said they were “extremely disappointed and worried” by the loss of a prominent conservative voice on campus.
“The university has lost a key figure who provides an invaluable contribution to the wide ideological spectrum that the university strives to promote,” the GW Republicans said, adding that they believe Thomas “made this decision based on his availability.”
“The uproar from the student body regarding his presence as faculty and the incessant hostility shown towards conservative students and beliefs on campus in general is great cause for alarm and must be addressed by the university. We hope that the university will continue to pursue its mission of academic freedom and ideological diversity with even more fervor in the future.”