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Georgetown suspends legal scholar who said Biden would name a 'lesser Black woman' to the Supreme Court

Business Insider logo Business Insider 1/31/2022 bgriffiths@insider.com (Brent D. Griffiths)
Georgetown University in 2013. Jacquelyn Martin/AP © Jacquelyn Martin/AP Georgetown University in 2013. Jacquelyn Martin/AP
  • Georgetown Law says it has put Ilya Shapiro on leave just a day before he was set to join the university.
  • A Black law student association called for Shapiro to be terminated after he criticized President Biden for committing to naming a Black woman to the Supreme Court.
  • Shapiro said a university investigation would "vindicate" him.

Georgetown Law School has put Ilya Shapiro, an incoming director of a research institute, on administrative leave following a series of deleted tweets about President Joe Biden naming a "lesser Black woman" to the Supreme Court instead of other potential nominees due to the president's promise to make a historic selection.

"Ilya Shapiro's tweets are antithetical to the work that we do here every day to build inclusion, belonging, and respect for diversity," Georgetown Law School Dean William Treanor wrote in a note to the law school community, according to Slate's Mark Joseph Stern.

Treanor said Shapiro will remain on leave and off-campus until an investigation into whether he violated the university's policies and "expectations of professional conduct" is complete. InsideHigherEd reported that the Georgetown Black Law Students Association among others had previously called for Shapiro's termination.

Shapiro, who was previously a top official at the libertarian Cato Institute, suggested that Biden should consider Judge Sri Srinivasan, who is chief judge of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, for the impending vacancy on the Supreme Court. Like other commentators, Shapiro suggested that Biden's public commitment to naming a Black woman to the high court would result in him ignoring other candidates.

"Even has identity politics benefit of being first Asian (Indian) American. But alas doesn't fit into latest intersectionality hierarchy so we'll get lesser black woman. Thank heaven for small favors?" Shapiro wrote in a now-deleted tweet.


Video: Biden praises Breyer, vows to name Black woman to court (Reuters)

Since deleting his tweets, Shapiro has apologized for his "poor choice of words." He repeated his belief that "using identity politics in choosing Supreme Court justices is discrediting a vital institution."

"I'm optimistic that Georgetown's investigation will be fair, impartial, and professional, though there's really not much to investigate," Shapiro said in a statement about the law school's action posted on Twitter. He added that he expected the investigation will "vindicate" him.

The law school previously announced that Shapiro was supposed to start as executive director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution on Tuesday.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit focused on student and faculty rights, strongly condemned Georgetown's decision saying "there is nothing to investigate."

"Georgetown's embarrassing capitulation is antithetical to the tenets of liberal education and cannot be squared with its promise to provide 'all members' of its community 'the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn,' even if others find it 'offensive, unwise, immoral, or ill conceived,'" the organization said in a statement.

It's worth pointing out that President Reagan's campaign promise to name a woman among his first nominations to the Supreme Court bears many striking similarities to what Biden has said and some of the opposition he's now facing.

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