Last week, Ilya Shapiro decided to do a little casual misogynoir on main, tweeting more or less that any judge President Biden nominated to sit on the Supreme Court would be a “lesser Black woman” in the face of the blinding light that is Sri Srinivasan. Georgetown University Law Center’s Dean responded with an attempted “I Feel Your Pain” moment that fell flat soon after receipt:
We now have a follow-up from the dean that has a little more bite.
Over the past several days, I have heard the pain and outrage of so many at Georgetown Law, and particularly from our Black female students, staff, alumni, and faculty. Ilya Shapiro’s tweets are antithetical to the work that we do here every day to build inclusion, belonging, and respect for diversity. I have heard and listened to a wide range of views, and I am grateful to the many members of the community who have reached out to me and other leaders at the school to share their thoughts.
I am writing to inform you that I have placed Ilya Shapiro on administrative leave, pending an investigation into whether he violated our policies and expectations on professional conduct, non-discrimination, and anti-harassment, the results of which will inform our next steps. Pending the outcome of the investigation, he will remain on leave and not be on campus. This investigation will follow the procedures established by Georgetown University.
Racial stereotypes about individual capabilities and qualifications remain a pernicious force in our society and our profession. I am keenly aware that our law school is not exempt. We will continue our work with students, staff, alumni, and faculty to put in place strategies, policies, and practices to strengthen our community and our commitment to justice and equality for all. And I remain committed to working with each of you to create a community where we can all thrive.
There are a couple of angles to go with here. Is it fair for a professor to face consequences for their Twitter content? Is this just the woke left trying to cancel an American pastime — casual racism? While the angles are legion, I know mine. Good riddance, bruh. I’ve never attended GULC, but if I discovered that a Washington University in St. Louis professor went on record saying that Black women were lesser, I damn sure wouldn’t want to be in one of their classes either. Blessings to the students for not having to deal with that mess for the time being.
It is nice to see GULC sussing out problems before professors are in the grading seat. I am sure some of the views have come from GULC’s very vocal Black Law Student Association. You can read their thoughts on what should happen moving forward here.
Maybe with the free time Shapiro will presumably have on his hands, he can take a moment to step back and think a little. Qualifications, like mattering, are a floor. Most things that exist matter to some degree. Some positions have qualifying requirements — to be president, you have to be at least least 35 years of age, be a natural born citizen, and must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years. Interestingly enough, there are no requirements to be a Supreme Court justice, according to supremecourt.gov at least:
The Constitution does not specify qualifications for Justices such as age, education, profession, or native-born citizenship. A Justice does not have to be a lawyer or a law school graduate, but all Justices have been trained in the law.
In his down time, maybe he can create some qualitative basis that shows the “qualified-ness” of potential nominees, all of them, and then compare those metrics to the list of judges who have sat and sit on on the Supreme Court. I’d love to see how Ketanji Brown Jackson, Sonia Sotomayor, and others compare to the intellectual and experienced powerhouses that already form part of the court, like Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh.
Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s. He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by tweet at @WritesForRent.