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Georgetown University Law senior lecturer Ilya Shapiro said Monday that he believes he’ll be cleared after an investigation by the school into a set of tweets on President Biden’s promise to choose a Black woman for the Supreme Court that sparked backlash online.
“I’m optimistic that Georgetown’s investigation will be fair, impartial, and professional, though there’s really not much to investigate,” Shapiro, a constitutional scholar who spent years working for the libertarian Cato Institute, said.
“I’m confident that it will reach the only reasonable conclusion: my Tweet didn’t violate any university rule or policy, and indeed is protected by Georgetown policies on free expression,” Shapiro added. “Accordingly, I expect to be vindicated and look forward to joining my new colleagues in short order.”
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The tweets that led to Shapiro being placed on administrative leave came last week after Biden doubled down on his campaign promise to choose a Black woman for the Supreme Court. Shapiro lamented that Biden’s pledge effectively excluded Judge Sri Srinivasan, the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit court of Appeals, because he is an Indian American man.
Shapiro said Srinivasan “doesn’t fit the intersectional hierarchy so we’ll get a lesser black woman,” alleged that the nominee would “have an asterisk attached” because of the president’s selection criteria and alleged that Biden is being racist and sexist in his choice.
Shapiro soon took down the tweets, which he called “inartful.” He said in a subsequent statement that “I regret my poor choice of words, which undermined my message that nobody should be discriminated against for his or her skin color.”
But before he officially started at Georgetown Law this week, the school announced it put him on administrative leave.
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“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,” Georgetown Law Dean William Treanor said in a statement.
“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,” Treanor continued. “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.”
Shapiro is being represented by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education during the investigation. The group said in a statement that “Dean William Treanor has made the wrong decision in authorizing this witch hunt, and every day that it continues is an affront to free speech and fairness at Georgetown.”
“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,’” FIRE also said.
Even as many on the right defend Shapiro, his opinion on Biden promising to nominate a Black woman isn’t shared by all GOP senators who will consider the eventual nominee. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on CBS Sunday that he believes diversity on the court is a laudable goal and that one of the women rumored to be on Biden’s shortlist, J. Michelle Childs, is more than qualified for the job.
Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said Monday he doesn’t “have a big problem” with Biden’s search criteria as long as “he doesn’t diminish the qualifications part of it.”
“He certainly won’t be the first president… who has done that, has taken a look at the nine members and taken a look at America and tries to reconcile some proportion of that,” Cramer said.
Former President Reagan said he would likely nominate a woman to the Supreme Court before choosing Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. And former President Trump explicitly said he would choose a woman for the court after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Fox News’ Kelly Phares contributed to this report.