Erin Schaff, The New York Times /AP
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has told George Washington University that he won’t be returning to teach at its law school this fall. The decision followed student protests over the Supreme Court’s vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Thomas told the school he will not be available to give a constitutional law seminar which he was expected to co-teach. He had been teaching the course at the Washington, D.C., law school since 2011.
“The students were promptly informed of Justice Thomas’ decision by his co-instructor who will continue to offer the seminar this fall,” GWU spokesperson Joshua Grossman said Thursday in a statement to NPR.
Thomas faced backlash from some GWU law students after he voted with the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to overturn the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which deemed abortion a constitutional right for Americans.
“We can’t be an institution that can be bullied into giving you just the outcomes you want,” Thomas told a group largely comprised of lawyers and judges at the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference in Atlanta in May, NBC News reported.
Since the court ruling, “we have heard from members of our community who have expressed feelings of deep disagreement with this decision,” GWU Provost Christopher Alan Bracey and law Dean Dayna Bowen Matthew wrote in an email to the university community.
The university received calls to terminate Thomas and cancel the seminar he teaches, they wrote.
“Justice Thomas’ views do not represent the views of either the George Washington University or its Law School,” Bracey and Matthew said. “Additionally, like all faculty members at our university, Justice Thomas has academic freedom and freedom of expression and inquiry.”
The law school faculty additionally cited the school’s academic freedom guidelines, which say the university should not shield its students from “ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.”