Jun 29, 2022 - Politics & Policy

GWU dismisses calls to remove Clarence Thomas from teaching role

Clarence Thomas, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, during the formal group photograph at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, April 23, 2021.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Photo: Erin Schaff/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

George Washington University has rejected calls to remove Justice Clarence Thomas from his teaching position after the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Driving the news: Some students launched a petition signed by nearly 7,000 people as of Wednesday, citing last week's ruling that ended federal protections on abortion and Thomas' concurring opinion suggesting that the court should reconsider opinions protecting same-sex relationships, marriage equality and access to contraceptives.

  • GWU said in a letter on Tuesday it had "received requests from some members of the university and external communities" urging it to remove Thomas from his position as adjunct professor and cancel the constitutional law seminar that he teaches at the university's law school.

What they're saying: "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 Justices Thomas’ employment nor cancel his class in response to his legal opinions," the GWU said.

  • "Just as we affirm our commitment to academic freedom, we affirm the right of all members of our community to voice their opinions and contribute to the critical discussion that are foundational to our academic mission," the university added.

Worth noting: "Justice Thomas' views do not represent the views of either the George Washington University or its Law School," the university emphasized in the letter.

  • "Additionally, like all faculty members at our university, Justice Thomas has academic freedom and freedom of expression and inquiry."

Go deeper: Dashboard: The latest on Roe v. Wade and abortion

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