The student-led petition demanding Thomas be removed from the faculty cited “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.”
The petition claimed Thomas was “actively making life unsafe for thousands of students on our campus” and was circulated outside campus, inflating the number of signatories.
The university defended Thomas in a letter stating that it would “neither terminate Justice Thomas’ employment nor cancel his class,” citing its commitment to free ideas and debate.
“Like all faculty members at our university, Justice Thomas has academic freedom and freedom of expression and inquiry,” school officials wrote.
The petition was updated earlier this week, with organizers taking credit for removing the justice from faculty, despite the school’s refusal to do so.
But Paoletta told CNA that the justice’s decision to take a break had nothing to do with the petition.
A popular course
Paoletta, who is also the co-author of "Created Equal: Clarence Thomas In His Own Words" (Regency Publishing, 2022), said the course Thomas taught at GW is one of the law school’s most popular classes.
It focuses on seminal Supreme Court cases, which Thomas teaches in his trademark style — by cutting through the narratives developed around a specific case and going back to the facts, he said. Paoletta said the class has a long waiting list every year it is offered and that papers written by students in the class have gone on to be published in prominent law journals.
Thomas himself is beloved by his students, Paoletta said, proving that “people who sign these petitions know nothing about him and are fueled by their hatred.” He added that the criticism “has never affected him and never will affect him.”
“The Left hates him because he is a principled black Supreme Court justice who dares to have his own thoughts and never bows to the Left mob mentality. Justice Thomas has been triggering the Left for 40 years and exposes their racism,” he said.
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A spokesperson for GW Law declined to comment Tuesday when asked if Thomas provided a specific reason for not teaching. The U.S. Supreme Court did not respond to a request for comment.