Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas will not teach a constitutional law seminar at George Washington University this fall for the first time in more than a decade amid nationwide backlash over his concurrence in the case overturning Roe v. Wade.
“Justice Thomas has informed me that he is unavailable to co-teach the seminar this fall,” co-instructor Gregory Maggs wrote in an email to registered law school students obtained by GW’s student newspaper, The Hatchet. “I know that this is disappointing. I am very sorry.”
Maggs and Thomas have led the seminar, titled “Leading Cases in Context,” since 2011. As of July 1, Thomas was still listed as an instructor. according to a screengrab of the course list viewed by The Post.
“Justice Thomas informed GW Law that he is unavailable to co-teach a Constitutional Law Seminar this fall,” a university spokesperson told The Post Wednesday afternoon. “The students were promptly informed of Justice Thomas’ decision by his co-instructor who will continue to offer the seminar this fall.”
Thomas’ apparent decision to step down comes after he was the target of criticism from Democrats and abortion rights activists after he and four other justices voted to overturn Roe v. Wade in June, leaving the issue in the hands of state legislatures.
Thomas drew particular ire over his concurring opinion, in which he suggested the court reconsider rulings granting federal protection to same-sex marriage and access to contraception.
On June 26, two days after the ruling was released, a petition was launched to remove Thomas from his teaching position.
“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,” read the petition – which garnered more than 11,000 signatures.
“While also factoring in his wife’s part in the attempted coup in January of 2021, Judge Thomas is actively making life unsafe for thousands of students on our campus (not to mention thousands of campuses across the country),” it continued.
The university stood by Thomas in its response to the petition.
“Debate is an essential part of our university’s academic and educational mission,” GW said in a statement obtained by Politico that noted some university faculty members also requested Thomas be fired.
“Just as we affirm our commitment to academic freedom, we affirm the right of all members of our communities to voice their opinions,” the statement added.
The Supreme Court did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Petitioners pushing for Thomas’ removal celebrated his removal from the list of instructors, saying, “We did it.”
“Clarence Thomas will no longer be teaching at George Washington University Law School. Despite the outward façade that Thomas was simply ‘unavailable’ to teach the class this Fall semester, the truth is that we are the reason he is not teaching at our school anymore,” they wrote.
“Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences,” a GW alum wrote on the Change.org petition page. “Removal is a consequence for his espousal of hate, scorn for equal protection, and callous disregard of legal precedent. He has abused the trust of the country and the alumni community.”
“He has made his position clear— women and members of the LGBTQ+ community are second-class citizens, if not less, in his eyes. GW cannot claim to side with these groups and continue to put money in his pockets for any reason,” an incoming GW freshman added.