Ethics Observations On Justice Thomas’s Exit From George Washington University Law School

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the only prominent black public servant who is unable (and unwilling) to use an accusation of “racism” to shield himself from criticism, will not teach a Constitutional Law Seminar this fall, as was announced in  an email addressed to students by Judge Gregory Maggs, who has co-taught the course with Thomas since 2011. Justice Thomas, Maggs wrote, is “unavailable” to co-teach the course in the fall. Now Thomas is no longer listed as a lecturer on GW Law’s course list.

Thomas’ withdrawal from the course certainly appears to be a reaction to a protest petition signed by 11,000 GW students and community members  demanding his removal from the university’s faculty in the wake of the Dobbs ruling and Thomas’ controversial concurring opinion. George Washington officials promptly  rejected the demand, but Thomas faced likely protests and disruptions to his class if he stayed on.

Observations:

  • Everything seems to point to Thomas deciding, “To hell with it, who needs the aggravation?” I don’t blame him too much, but his decision essentially allows the censors, the cancel-culture practitioners, the anti-academic freedom activists and the anti-free speech mob to triumph again. Every time this happens, our culture’s grip on diverse thought and open discourse becomes a bit more tenuous. Thomas also can be praised for sacrificing his own principles—has any SCOTUS justice had to endure more abuse and harassment than Thomas, or resisted it all so consistently and for so long?—in the interests of his students. Undoubtedly his Constitutional Law classes would be disrupted by chanting (Maybe “Hey hey, ho ho, Clarence Thomas has got to go!”? Morons…), pickets and boycotts. The censorious, closed-minded student have robbed their more mature peers of having the experience of being taught by a sitting SCOTUS justice.

Now watch the mob demand more diversity on the faculty…not viewpoint diversity of course.

  • Here’s the quality of ethical analysis being used by the Thomas-cancelers: Recent GW law school graduate Jordan Michel, a  former president of the GW Law Student Bar Association, explained,

“There’s agreement among law students that having diverse perspectives is important. But when somebody who’s supposed to be educating us fails to subscribe to or uphold the ethical, legal, moral obligations that we are here trying to abide by, it becomes problematic for us.”

That’s hilarious. Translation: “Having diverse perspectives is important, but not as important as having the same perspectives I do.”

  • GW deserves some credit for quickly and unequivocally rejecting student demands to punish Thomas for helping to sink Roe v. Wade, a bad decision for which the best argument against reversal was that it is too late to do what should  have been done long ago. The administration rejected the demands immediately, not making any concessions to the students or acknowledging that the school was sympathetic. It also did not include a gratuitous condemnation of Dobbs, other than stating that Thomas doesn’t speak for the university itself.

Is it possible that GW asked the Justice to quietly withdraw on his own to spare the school ongoing strife? I would be disappointed in Thomas if that persuaded him to leave.

At 74, and looking at an upcoming term of major decisions, Thomas hardly needs the aggravation of such protests. However, his departure (even if temporary) is a great loss to students, the law school and free speech. …What is clear is that his departure is likely to fuel additional efforts to isolate and stigmatize those with opposing views.

  • But those with opposing views to the increasingly totalitarian-minded Left are already isolated on most campuses. A recent survey conducted by The Harvard Crimson  revealed that 82.46% of faculty surveyed identify as “liberal” or “very liberal,” while 16.08% identified as “moderate” and the professors identifying as “conservative” constitute a whopping 1.46%  No faculty members regarded themselves as “very conservative,” while the number of faculty proudly declaring themselves as “very liberal” increased by nearly 8% in a single year.
  • How can students receive a balanced, diverse, challenging education with such an ideologically skewed faculty?

Easy: they can’t. And that appears to be the idea.

  • And, to end on a humorous note, here is the measured analysis of the legally-educated assholes at “Above the Law”:

What a blow for law students hoping to hear which 16th century pamphleteers to select when reverse engineering an opinion to meet the political strategy of the contemporary Republican Party! So many screeds from Goody Hamperswithinfield will now go tragically unread when they might very well have described the Framers’ thoughts on whether comely lasses using contraception must be stoned in the town square before or after the next full moon.

Which all goes to GW’s disgraceful effort to wrap itself in the rhetoric of warmed over academic freedom. There’s nothing about Clarence Thomas that speaks to “the robust exchange of ideas and deliberation.”

12 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On Justice Thomas’s Exit From George Washington University Law School

  1. “Okay, boys and girls. You want to have your Con Law class taught by a sitting Supreme Court Justice? I mean, you might be arguing a case in front of this person someday soon.”

    “Uh. No. We’d rather have it taught by Elie Mystal.”

    “Okey doke!”

  2. “There’s agreement among law students that having diverse perspectives is important. But when somebody who’s supposed to be educating us fails to subscribe to or uphold the ethical, legal, moral obligations that we are here trying to abide by, it becomes problematic for us.”

    This is so absolutely moronic. Granted, I have not listened to Thomas’ lectures, but I would dare to bet that his treatment of Marbury v. Madison, Plessy, Dred Scott, Lochner, Brown v. Board of Education, and Miranda are going to be pretty much the same as Ginsburg’s, Alito’s, or Roberts might be.

    Now, of course, he may put out his own views about the problem of substantive due process, but I would expect the others to be able to articulate that problem just as well. I mean, hell, we talked about it in my con law class. Though, come to think of it, my con law professor was a former clerk of Justice Thomas….

    But, even if Thomas feels that the Court has been an activist court and he promotes an originalist position, I would be surprised if his exposition of those topics is anything other than an explanation of differing philosophies.

    The problem here is that students expect to be indoctrinated and they expect their teachers intend to indoctrinate them. Because of this, they must have a teacher whose views they approve of, so they can get the correct indoctrination.

    I can see no other basis for their need to have teachers that uphold the same ethical, legal, and moral obligations they have. This is particularly moronic for law school students to say this. Lawyers advocate for others, not themselves. I hope these comments are not an indication that law students are beginning to think that they have to agree with all of their clients in order to represent them. I just got done representing someone I find loathsome (maybe a bit strong of a word), but he had been wronged and I thought I could help him. And, the criminal justice system could not survive if lawyers refused to represent reprehensible people.

    If Law School are not breaking it down that simply for their students, they are failing to teach one of the most fundamental aspects of being a lawyer.

    -Jut

    • “The problem here is that students expect to be indoctrinated and they expect their teachers intend to indoctrinate them. Because of this, they must have a teacher whose views they approve of, so they can get the correct indoctrination.”

      BINGO! Students picking their teachers. How upside down and wrong is that? The students know all there is about the subject, therefore they decide who their teachers should be? This is the crux of the problem in the academy today. Students, not faculty, are running the intellectual enterprise. It’s backwards. Why are these students paying for instruction? They already know the answers. Shouldn’t first year law students simply proceed immediately to bar exam prep courses and the bar exam? Or maybe they should just be sworn in and licensed immediately. High school graduates should be given undergrad degrees upon acceptance to college.

  3. In law school, I felt a deep anger towards many of my classmates because they acted like little totalitarians. I didn’t think they deserved to be in law school at all because their entire attitude was directed towards using the law to control and intimidate anyone who disagreed with them. I heard too many statements about the living constitution to have any confidence in most of them.

    Everyone I have as a friend on Facebook from law school has denounced Dobbs, and Thomas specifically. No one has come out to defend his freedom of speech. They all also called Kavanaugh a rapist.

    The whole background check thing? Ha. We don’t need that. We need to focus on forming people into actually appreciating the rule of law and the constitution. My generation is actively working to subvert it.

  4. It’s becoming very difficult to escape the conclusion that the Left wants conservatives excluded from a number of professions.

    Look at the walk-out of new medical students at the University of Michigan over a pro-life professor who wasn’t even discussing abortion. Look at the way OANN was dropped by cable and satellite providers after a left-wing pressure campaign. To say nothing of the exclusion of conservatives from the legal field (see what Kirkland and Ellis did to Paul Clement) and what THAT means for the future.

    It will heighten distrust of those professions by people on the right. I know people who already question if a liberal doctor would provide them adequate care. People wonder if conservatives will be able to make their cases effectively in court on the Second Amendment or some First Amendment issues.

    Again, if you wanted to strengthen the hand of Trump and his supporters, would they be doing anything differently?

    • Good point and I agree with you completely. Pushing conservatives, especially religious conservatives, out of public life appears to be the goal. They are definitely not welcome in science, academia, entertainment, law, education or politics.

      All we’re lacking here are the Nuremburg Laws to codify the ostracism.

    • I don’t question if a run of the mill liberal doctor would provide adequate care, but I do fully question whether someone on the far left would. Remember the med student who took an extra blood draw because the patient made fun of all this pronoun nonsense?

      Or the nurse practitioner who said she didn’t want to treat white men with ED?

  5. Does anyone but me see this as self-censorship by Thomas? When given a forum to repudiate the “cancel culture,” and a perfect example to hold high and demonstrate why all should hold it in disdain, he retreats and leaves the work to others. Not very brave, in my view.

    He stood up to one high-tech lynching. I guess he’s tired of it…

  6. Sooner,

    Do you think that the problem lies with students (young students) lacking the maturity to realize the remarkable good fortune they have by being in an institution where, given the right faculty, debate and argument between student and professor is encouraged?

    Perhaps I was lucky. My Doctoral advisor was a MD, JD, MPH, while I was a BS, MS, MPH, and we’d argue! Neither of us would give an inch unless the other had clearly and concisely made a point. Once, we were working on a paper he’d encouraged me to submit to a law journal. We argued over nearly every sentence because, in 1985, we both realized that words mattered. I should also mention that we were near contemporaries in age and good friends, besides.

    My mentor was cross-appointed as faculty in the law school. His specialties were administrative, labor, and environmental law, and related legal fields. I learned much from him and, I hope, he learned from me. The work was the hardest 3½ years of my education, and was glad to have it. Are students in law schools, specifically, and universities, in general, afraid of confronting opinions that challenge their orthodoxy? Even though pipeline law students are likely nearly 15 years younger than I was in graduate school, why do they not have the curiosity to challenge differing positions?

    At the time, I was 35–38, so I was (I hope) more mature than a typical law student. But, he was there to teach, and I was there to learn, and our method was defending one’s position through cogent argument.

    I’m glad of it, as he trained my Engineer/Mathematician/Physicist mind to think about problems entirely differently, and be able to argue my position in defending it.

    I don’t read that kind of education in your writing about contemporary students, and it’s a shame.
    Would that I was close enough to Norman to meet & just chat with you, Judge. I love learning things.

    Best,

    MB

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