George Washington University has decided to stand by US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, despite protests from students calling for his termination.
In addition to his role on the court, Thomas is an adjunct professor at the university, where he teaches a constitutional law seminar at its law school. Citing Thomas’ concurring opinion in overturning Roe v. Wade – as well as his wife’s role in the effort to overturn the 2020 electoral result and his stated desire to revisit decisions concerning same-sex marriage and contraception – more than 7,000 people have signed a petition calling for his termination.
“Judge Thomas is actively making life unsafe for thousands of students on our campus (not to mention thousands of campuses across the country),” the petition reads.
Provost Christopher Alan Bracey and GW Law Dean Dayna Bowen Matthew addressed the petition on Tuesday in a campus-wide email obtained by CNN, confirming that the university has received termination requests from “some members of the university and external communities.” Referencing the university’s academic freedom guidelines, Bracey and Matthew wrote that Thomas would not be let go.
“Justice Thomas has been a consistent critic of the Court’s legal philosophy on substantive due process for many years,” the email said. “Because we steadfastly support the robust exchange of ideas and deliberation, and because debate is an essential part of our university’s academic and educational mission to train future leaders who are prepared to address the world’s most urgent problems, the university will neither terminate Justice Thomas’ employment nor cancel his class in response to his legal opinions.”
The university did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for further comment. Meanwhile, some student groups are calling for people to continue emailing Matthew to protest Thomas’ retention.
“It is not acceptable for Judge Thomas to be teaching students who he does not respect and does not believe have the same rights as straight people or the minority of men on campus,” Jon Kay, who created the petition and is a student at GW, said in an interview with CNN affiliate WUSA. “This isn’t about ideological agreement, it’s about a teacher having respect for his students.”