A new Georgetown Law administrator who started his job at the prestigious Washington D.C. law school on Monday has already been placed on administrative leave after a controversial tweet about President Joe Biden‘s plan to nominate a black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Shapiro’s tweets drew outrage from the student body and other Twitter uses over his apparent suggestion that the best Supreme Court nominee could not be a black woman.
‘Objectively best pick for Biden is Sri Srinivasan, who is solid prog & v smart [sic]. Even has identify politics benefit of being first Asian (Indian) American. But alas doesn’t fit into the latest intersectionality hierarchy so we’ll get lesser black woman. Thank heaven for small favors?’ he tweeted after news spread of Supreme Court Justice Breyer’s retirement last Wednesday.
He later tweeted an apology, saying, ‘I meant no offense, but it was an inartful tweet. I have taken it down.’
Ilya Shapiro, who due to join Georgetown Law school next week, has been placed on administrative leave over his social media posts made last week about Biden’s SCOTUS picks
Shapiro posted on Twitter questioning the qualifications of any black woman that President Joe Biden may nominate to replace Justice Stephen Breyer
Another tweet stated: ‘Because Biden said he’s only consider[ing] black women for SCOTUS, his nominee will always have an asterisk attached. Fitting that the Court takes up affirmative action next term.’
Shapiro still wasn’t finished and in a third tweet decided to post a poll asking whether Joe Biden was racist
‘Objectively best pick for Biden is Sri Srinivasan (pictured), who is solid prog & v smart. Even has identify politics benefit of being first Asian (Indian) American. But alas doesn’t fit into the latest intersectionality hierarchy so we’ll get lesser black woman,’ Shapiro wrote
Shapiro was hired to be join Georgetown’s law faculty as executive director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution but now his position is in doubt.
On Monday, Shapiro tweeted his confidence that following an investigation by the university he will be allowed to take up his posting in full.
‘I’m optimistic that Georgetown’s investigation will be fair, impartial, and professional, though there’s really not much to investigate. And 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. Accordingly, I expect to be vindicated and look forward to joining my new colleagues in short order,’ he wrote.
Biden announced last week that he’d fulfill his campaign promise to nominate the first black female justice as Justice Stephen Breyer said he would retire. The 83-year-old liberal is the oldest member of the bench.
On Monday, Shapiro tweeted his confidence that following an investigation by the university he will be allowed to take up his posting in full
On Friday, Georgetown University’s Black Law Students Association had demanded his job offer be rescinded, describing the tweet as ‘offensive, racist, sexist, and misogynistic.’
‘The tweets’ suggestion that the best Supreme Court nominee could not be a black woman and their use of demeaning language are appalling,’ Georgetown University said in a statement.
‘The tweets are at odds with everything we stand for at Georgetown Law and are damaging to the culture of equity and inclusion that Georgetown Law is building every day.’
Shapiro is now on leave while the university’s internal investigation takes place into whether he violated any school policies, despite not being employed by the establishment at the time he made the insensitive remarks.
‘Ilya Shapiro’s tweets are antithetical to the work that we do here every day to build inclusion, belonging and respect for diversity,’ Dean Bill Treanor wrote in a letter to the law school community.
The dean of Georgetown University Law Center William M. Treanor told the Law School that he had 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
‘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 added.
‘Ilya Shapiro’s tweets are antithetical to the work that we do here every day to build inclusion, belonging, and respect for diversity,’ he wrote. ‘Racial stereotypes about individual capabilities and qualifications remain a pernicious force in our society and our profession.’
On Friday, Shapiro made his first apology.
‘I regret my poor choice of words, which undermined my message that nobody should be discriminated against for his or her skin color,’ Shapiro wrote in a statement.
‘While it’s important that a wide variety of perspectives and backgrounds be represented in the judiciary, so blatantly using identity politics in choosing Supreme Court justices is discrediting to a vital institution. Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan is, in my mind, the most qualified nominee a Democratic president could choose. Reasonable people can disagree on that particular assessment, but it’s a shame that he and other men and women of every race are excluded from the outset of the selection process,’ he explained.
Justice Breyer (right) holds up a copy of the U.S. Constitution as he briefly addressed the press during last Thursday’s event in the Roosevelt Room
Shapiro also penned something similar in an apology that was sent directly into the inboxes of the Georgetown community.
‘In seeking to join the Georgetown community, I wanted to contribute to your worthy mission to educate students, inform the public, and engage in the battle of legal ideas that lead to justice and fairness. I still want to do that. Recklessly framed tweets like this week’s obviously don’t advance that mission, for which I am also truly sorry. Regardless of whether anyone agrees or disagrees with me on a host of legal and policy issues, I can and will do better with regard to how I communicate my positions,’ he wrote.
Some free speech activists have thrown their support behind Shapiro.
“Academic freedom protects Shapiro’s views, regardless of whether we agree with them or not,” wrote the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, an advocacy group that focuses on First Amendment issues.
“And debate about the president’s nomination, and about whether race and sex play a proper role in such nominations more generally, would be impoverished — at Georgetown and elsewhere — if this view could not be safely expressed in universities,’ the group wrote in a letter.
Shapiro will remain off the Georgetown campus while the investigation takes place.
On social media, Shapiro’s apology carried little weight as he came in for sharp criticism
On social media, Shapiro’s apology carried little weight.
‘If you are trying to prove you have no idea how racist your original tweet was you’re doing great! Otherwise I’d workshop this a bit more,’ wrote lawyer Mirriam Zary.
‘Not as racist as declaring Sri Srinivasan ineligible because she is not of the preferred race,’ said another Twitter user.
‘This response isn’t going to please anyone,’ tweeted Joe Vols.
‘A good lawyer would’ve had this statement a lot faster with a lot better apology,’ said Stephen Choloula.
‘That’s a lot of words to use just to reaffirm your original position that there isn’t a single black woman in the whole United States who’s qualified to sit on the Supreme Court,’ added another user.
‘The most non-apology apology. I’m going to enjoy you being CANCELED,’ wrote one more.
‘Dude how can you screw up an apology multiple times. I guess when you’re not actually sorry,’ surmised Justin Saddle.
‘In other words, I meant what I said,’ inferred Alvin Burney.
Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor pose for a group photo at the Supreme Court in April 2021