Clarence Thomas Won’t Teach at George Washington University Following Student Protests

Thousands of students signed a petition calling for the Supreme Court justice to be fired following his concurring opinion in the ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.

July 28, 2022 · Updated on July 28, 2022

Edited by Alex Pasquariello
Clarence Thomas Won’t Teach at George Washington University Following Student Protests
Photo by Erin Schaff / Pool / Getty Images News / Getty Images

  • The Supreme Court justice has co-taught a constitutional law course at George Washington's Law School since 2011.
  • He withdrew from teaching that course this fall, The GW Hatchet first reported.
  • More than 11,500 university community members recently signed a petition demanding his removal from GW's faculty.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas won't teach a fall law seminar at the George Washington University Law School, despite the university's recent statement of support for the conservative justice.

Thomas withdrew from the constitutional law course, according to an email addressed to students in the seminar that was obtained Wednesday by The GW Hatchet, the university's independent student newspaper. The Washington Post and Associated Press subsequently confirmed The Hatchet's reporting.

"Unfortunately, I am writing with some sad news: Justice Thomas has informed me that he is unavailable to co-teach the seminar this fall," Gregory Maggs said in the email obtained by The Hatchet. "I know that this is disappointing. I am very sorry."

George Washington University (GW) is a private institution located in Washington, D.C. Thomas has co-taught the course with Maggs, one of his former law clerks and a U.S. Court of Appeals judge, since 2011.

Thomas's withdrawal from teaching the course comes as more than 11,500 university community members signed a petition demanding his removal from GW's faculty.

Thomas was part of the conservative majority that in late June overturned the Roe v. Wade decision that guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion. In his concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, Thomas also called on the Supreme Court to reconsider rulings that protect contraception, same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriage.

"With the recent Supreme Court decision that has stripped the right to bodily autonomy of people with wombs, and with his explicit intention to further strip the rights of queer people and remove the ability for people to practice safe sex without fear of pregnancy, it is evident that the employment of Clarence Thomas at George Washington University is completely unacceptable," the petition states.

GW Provost Christopher Bracey and GW Law Dean Dayna Bowen Matthew responded to the petition in a June 28 email to the university community, The Hatchet reported.

The Supreme Court justice's views "do not represent" the views of GW as a whole, the email said.

However, the email stated that the university would neither fire Thomas nor cancel his class.

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