The cancel culture mob came for conservative Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas and apparently won. The long-serving associate justice was slated to teach a seminar at the law school of George Washington University (GWU) until canceling his teaching plans.
Thomas taught the seminar in previous semesters with one of his former clerks, Judge Gregory E. Maggs of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Maggs, according to the student newspaper the GW Hatchet, emailed enrolled students that Thomas would not co-teach the fall semester course called “Constitutional Law Seminar.”
Maggs wrote, “Unfortunately, I am writing with some sad news: Justice Thomas has informed me that he is unavailable to co-teach the seminar this fall.” He also noted, “I know that this is disappointing. I am very sorry.”
“The seminar has not been canceled but I will now be the sole instructor,” he added, “those of you still interested in taking the course, I assure you that we will make the best of the new situation.”
Maggs has co-taught the seminar course with Thomas since 2011, which is the same amount of time that Thomas has been an adjunct lecturer at the law school.
GWU confirmed the report about Thomas’s absence, “Justice Thomas informed GW Law that he is unavailable to co-teach a Constitutional Law Seminar this fall.” The university spokesman said, “The students were promptly informed of Justice Thomas’ decision by his co-instructor who will continue to offer the seminar this fall.”
The justice did not explain why he suddenly became “unavailable” for the fall constitutional law seminar, but his critics and detractors point to his role in overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Thomas, along with other conservative-aligned justices, voted to uphold Mississippi’s abortion ban in the Dobbs. v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which ultimately overturned Roe v. Wade and a similar case in Casey v. Planned Parenthood.
Another part of the controversy was that Thomas wrote in an opinion that the Supreme Court should re-evaluate the Obergefell v. Hodges decision which legalized gay marriage and a different court case on contraception.
As a result of his vote and his writings, left-wing students criticized the law school for employing Thomas in an adjunct role. Many signed an online petition which called for the law school to remove Thomas, to which GWU officials resisted the removal campaign in the name of free speech because the officials “steadfastly support the robust exchange of ideas and deliberation.”
The Washington Post quoted a GWU student’s opposition to Thomas’s adjunct role, who said, “This is a massive victory” and noted that like-minded activists “are going to continue to work to make sure he doesn’t come back in the spring semester.”
On the other hand, GWU law professor Jonathan Turley, a Fox News contributor, said that Thomas’s withdrawal was “deeply concerning” because it demonstrated the growing intolerance for opposing viewpoints on college campuses. According to the Washington Post, Turley wrote an email which stated, “Justice Thomas has taught this course for many years and our students have benefited greatly from his insights and his experiences. He said, “He is known as someone who enjoys interaction with students and has often shown a great deal of interest in their careers. This is a tremendous loss for our school.”
Cancel culture is the silencing of opposing viewpoints on social media, in public, and particularly on college campuses. It is a shame that GWU law students will no longer have access to a sitting Supreme Court justice and his experiences as one of the top legal jurists in the country.