Georgetown Law School Lashes Out at Professor Critical of Biden's Racial Supreme Court Promise

President has promised to put first black woman on Supreme Court

Ilya Shapiro / YouTube
January 27, 2022

Georgetown University on Thursday condemned one of its own law professors for his "appalling" criticism of President Joe Biden's pledge to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court.

In an email to the entire law school, William Treanor, dean of the law school, said faculty member Ilya Shapiro's comments regarding Biden's pledge to base his nomination decision on race were "at odds with everything" the law school stands for and were "damaging to the culture of equity and inclusion that Georgetown Law is building every day." Treanor criticized Shapiro for using "demeaning language" that he characterized as "appalling."

Shapiro, the executive director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution, wrote on social media on Wednesday that Biden was not going to pick the most qualified person for the Supreme Court because he pledged to pick a black woman. "Because Biden said he's [sic] only consider black women for SCOTUS, his nominee will always have an asterisk attached," Shapiro wrote. "Fitting that the Court takes up affirmative action next term."

Shapiro also said the "objectively best pick" for the vacancy would be Sri Srinivasan, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals. He's a "solid prog[ressive] & v[ery] smart," Shapiro said. "Even has identity politics benefit of being first Asian (Indian) American. But alas doesn't fit into latest intersectionality hierarchy so we'll get [a] lesser black woman."

Treanor in the email said Shapiro's posts amounted to a "suggestion that the best Supreme Court nominee could not be a Black woman," a mischaracterization of Shapiro's argument.

Shapiro's now-deleted tweets sparked outrage from progressive students, who asked the school to "publicly denounce" Shapiro and "reconsider the decision to hire" him.

"This tweet is antithetical to Georgetown Law's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion," the students wrote in a petition to Georgetown faculty reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon. "Ilya Shapiro expressed bigoted views in this statement, explicitly stating that Black women are a 'lesser' choice for a Supreme Court nomination."

Treanor's email came less than 24 hours after the petition, which has been signed by 350 students.

Treanor's statement signals to students at the law school who spoke to the Free Beacon on condition of anonymity that Shapiro is on the chopping block. The school used similar language last year prior to dismissing Sandra Sellers, a professor who was caught on tape saying that black students tend to cluster at the bottom of her classes. After students protested her comments, Treanor sent out an email condemning Sellers's "reprehensible" and "abhorrent" conduct, which he said had "no place in our educational community." The next day, Treanor announced that "Professor Sellers is no longer affiliated with Georgetown Law."

Treanor did not respond to a request for comment.