Georgetown Law Center Finally Reinstated Ilya Shapiro. Big Whoop! [Corrected]

Yesterday, after a 122-day punitive investigation into a 45-word tweet, Georgetown University Law Center finally reinstated Ilya Shapiro as the senior lecturer and executive director for the Georgetown Center for the Constitution. It should not take a four-month investigation to reinstate a faculty member for clearly-protected political expression, even had his controversial tweet not been self-evidently true, which it was. But that’s Georgetown for you.
Way back in January, Ethics Alarms first reported on this embarrassment to my law school alma mater and former employer. Following President Biden’s woke-pandering pledge to appoint a black woman to fill a looming vacancy on the Supreme Court, Shapiro issued a sharp tweet opining that restricting the choice of justices by race and gender was not the best way to identify the most qualified or experienced jurist. For this he was called a racist by the Law Center’s dean, and suspended. I followed the episode (with disgust) in several posts: exploring the unethical conduct of Dean Treanor, regarding a letter of protest signed by many law school professors (but none from GULC); on the alumni and student protest led by Luke Bunting; and cheering Federal Judge Ho’s support for Shapiro in an address at the law school.

Update: Georgetown Law Center’s Unethical Punishment Of The Professor Who Criticized Selecting SCOTUS Judges According To Race And Gender

The update is simple: nothing has changed.

Ethics Alarms first noted the Illya Shapiro debacle here, on January 29 of this year. The incoming newly-appointed executive director for the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies posted a (admittedly badly worded) tweet critical of President Biden’s stated criteria for choosing the replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Breyer, and the Law Center’s wonderfully woke (and unethical) Dean despicably called his tweet racist and suspended him pending the obligatory “investigation.” Here I wrote about a letter of protest to the Dean from various Law Center Alumni (including me). Here Ethics Alarms noted the letter of protest signed by professors from schools all over the country (but none from the Law Center) pointing out that “the substance of the which is that Sri Srinivasan is the most qualified progressive nominee, and that it’s wrong for the President to pass him over because of race and sex, is a position that is most certainly protected by academic freedom principles of “[f]ree inquiry and unconstrained publication of the results of inquiry.”

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Ethics Quote Of The Week: Criminal Defense Attorney Scott Greenfield

“A perpetual concern, particularly in criminal defense, is that the next generation of lawyers will lack the skills needed to do their job, to zealously represent their clients. They struggle to tolerate the language we encounter in the ordinary course of our work. They are blinded by hatred of their prosecutorial adversaries, the law enforcement witnesses, the judge who denies their pleas for “justice.” Can they mount effective arguments against their clients if they can’t tolerate hearing arguments with which they disagree?”

—Criminal defense lawyer Scott Greenfield, on his blog “Simple Justice,” reacting to the law students at UC Hastings shouting down Georgetown Law professor Illya Shapiro, who was supposed to be engaging in a civil debate with a Hastings professor.

Ethics Alarms discussed the Hastings incident here [#4]; I should have probably made a solo post of it, because as Greenfield correctly points out, it has wider implications. Later he writes,

The reaction to these students was split, with many woke law students and baby lawyers applauding their action while more experienced lawyers were appalled at what they viewed as a failure of a law school, of law students, to demonstrate the minimal capacity to engage in the manner that will be expected of them as lawyers. If tactics like this are what law students deem acceptable, will they ever be capable of being lawyers?

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Ethics Hero (“Socking It To Georgetown University” Div.) #2: Federal Judge James Ho

As a graduate and former employee of Georgetown Law Center (and, though I say it myself, a living legend there), I have found the recent disgraceful episode where conservative scholar Illya Shapiro was suspended by the Dean at GULC for a tweet expressing the view that President Biden’s announced plan to make race and gender his primary criteria for filling Justice Breyer’s soon to be vacant seat on the Supreme Court particularly discouraging. (My JD diploma was already face to the wall for previous embarrassments, however.) I have been particularly disgusted by the failure of the GULC faculty to speak up in support of Shapiro in public, though other academics across the country have done so.

Thus it was with particular pleasure that I learned how Judge James Ho of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, slated to speak at GULC yesterday on “Fair Weather Originalism: Judges, Umpires, and the Fear of Being Booed,” saw the obvious relevance of his topic to Shapiro’s ordeal and shocked his hosts by giving a different lecture than the one announced. He said in part,

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Ethics Hero: Luke Bunting ’22, Editor-in-Chief Of The Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy

The battle over the punishment of Illya Shapiro for WrongThink—Imagine, he actually thinks excluding outstanding Supreme Court candidates by using racial and gender discrimination is unwise!—continues.

Luke Bunting, a 3L at Georgetown University Law Center who also edits one its journals, is stepping up where the GULC faculty has failed miserably. Echoing the legal academics and scholars across the country who have signed an open letter protesting the Law Center’s Dean, William Treanor’s effort to ingratiate the school with the censorious Woke and the race-baiting mob, Bunting has authored a similar letter for GULC alumni to sign. It reads,

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Ethical Quote Of The Week: Faculty Letter To GULC Dean Treanor In Support Of Illya Shapiro [CORRECTED]

So far, 106 professors from all points on the ideological spectrum have signed a letter to Georgetown Law Center’s Dean Treanor, telling him what should not have to be explained to a Top 20 law school dean: that “academic freedom protects [Illya] Shapiro’s views, regardless of whether we agree with them or not. And debate about the President’s nomination, and about whether race and sex play a proper role in such nominations more generally, would be impoverished—at Georgetown and elsewhere—if this view could not be safely expressed in universities.”

Shapiro, as discussed here, has been suspended (“put on leave pending an investigation”) by Treanor, and if past behavior by Georgetown Law Center is any indication, he is likely to be fired, forced to resign, or to have to humiliate himself by submitting to “sensitivity training” after a public confession of WrongThink.

Here is the letter, which appears to have been coordinated by the Foundation For Individual Rights in Education. Those seeking to add their names to the signatories can email

Disgracefully, no member of the GULC faculty has signed the letter to support their colleague—and the principles of freedom of expression and academic freedom at their own institution—as of this writing. Continue reading

It Reveals The Dire State Of U.S. Higher Education Culture That Dean William M. Treanor Of Georgetown University Law Center Isn’t The Most Unethical Law School Administrator Of The Past Year (It’s Close, Though…)

That distinction still has to go to Yale Law School Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Yaseen Eldik and Associate Dean of Student Affairs Ellen Cosgrove, who persecuted, and and threatened a student in this infamous episode last Fall. Their victim is a student, which gives them an edge over Dean Treanor whose target is Ilya Shapiro, GULC’s newly hired director of the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies and vice-president of the Cato Institute.

Just two days ago, I described Shapiro’s foray into the debate over President Biden’s looming Supreme Court nomination, which will have to be a black woman because race and gender are more important to the Far Left than qualifications, ability and experience in the branch of the government that protects the Constitution, but mostly because Joe promised he would while in Full Pander Mode as he fought for his party’s nomination to oppose President Trump in 2020. Shapiro issued a series of tweets that were crystal clear to anyone reading them rationally and honestly, making his case that Biden should be nominating Justice Breyer’s replacement on the basis of qualifications, ability and experience. A careless choice of words, however—this was Twitter, after all—gave race-baiters and progressive censors an opportunity to pounce, and they did.

Shapiro was accused of being a racist (of course); the law schools black student association demanded he be fired (also of course); and GULC’s ostentatiously woke Dean capitulated to the anti-free speech and anti-academic freedom mob, announcing yesterday to me and other “alumni/ae”, as the marvelous Dean I worked for, the late David McCarthy always called them…

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Stop Making Me Defend President Biden!

At this point, President Biden has no choice, ethically or practically, other than to keep his promise to nominate a black woman to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. By all means, he deserves criticism for making such a promise, but that was done quite a while ago, when he was in full pander mode during the 2020 Democratic Presidential primaries. Breaking a pledge is never ethical, unless conditions have changed sufficiently to make the keeping of the pledge materially different from what was anticipated at the time, or if keeping the promise would be illegal.

It is often forgotten that President Reagan pledged to nominate a woman to the Supreme Court, and many liberal pundits at the time predicted that he would renege on that promise. He didn’t. It was a different kind of pledge than Biden’s however. There was a fairly deep pool of qualified women to choose from particularly if he dipped into the group of qualified female lawyers and academics. The lack of any woman ever sitting on the Court since the 18th Century had become an embarrassment. It wasn’t a matter of making the Court “look like America,” it was whether the Court could credibly look like a gentleman’s club. Continue reading

The Biden Supreme Court Pick Ethics Train Wreck

Wow, that was fast. This episode has turned into an ethics train wreck with record speed. Some ethics train wrecks slow down and stop after a few months; other roll on seemingly forever. The Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck, which has included directly-related wrecks like the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck and the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck, is almost nine years old, and won’t stop until Black Lives Matter lies a-moldering in the grave. The 2016 Presidential Election Ethics Train Wreck is still going strong, with the Jan. 6 riot and the subsequent kangaroo court investigation in the House the latest cars to be hooked up. The Biden Supreme Court Ethics Train Wreck? At this point, where it stops, nobody knows.

It began before it was even certain Biden would get a SCOTUS nomination, when he first promised to name a black woman to the Court. That promise, which he quickly confirmed once Justice Breyer announced his retirement, was unethical “on its face,” as the Court might say. The statement means, and can only mean, that group identification is the primary priority for the President of the United Sates in nominating a crucial individual who will help determine the course of the nation’s laws, justice system, constitutional integrity and culture for decades to come. That function has nothing whatsoever to do with race or gender. Nothing. Being black, white, Native American or Asian does not make an individual more or less qualified for the job, and neither does gender. Biden’s statement literally means that he is placing tribalism and group identification biases above the substantive needs of the nation. That’s unethical. Other Presidents have done this, notably Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. That’s no mitigation.

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Ethics Observations On The Unethical Quote Of The Week, By Senator Joe Manshin (D-WV)


“But due process is what’s killing us now.”

—- Democratic Senator Joe Manshin, of West Virginia, on MSNBC bemoaning the fact that the government can’t take away your rights based on “suspicion.”

Naturally, nobody on the network immediately responded, “WHAT???” I wonder if there are any broadcast journalists who would have challenged that crypto-fascist statement by a U.S. Senator. Think about that for a minute.

Just so you are clear that the quote isn’t out of context, here is what Manshin said (you can also watch the video here)

“The problem we have and really the firewall that we have right now is due process. It’s all due process. So we can all say, yeah, we want the same thing but how do we get there?” If a person is on the terrorist watch list like the gentleman, the shooter in Orlando, he was twice by the FBI, we were briefed yesterday about what happened, but that man was brought in twice. They did everything they could. The FBI did everything they were supposed to do, but there was no way for them to keep him on the nix list or keep him off the gun buy list. There was no way to do that. So can’t we say that if a person’s under suspicion,  there should be a five-year period of time of time that we have to see if good behavior, if this person continues the same traits, maybe we can come to that type of an agreement? But due process is what’s killing us now.”

Observations: Continue reading