Academic Freedom Alliance Letter to Georgetown University Law Center

Academic Freedom Alliance sent a letter to Georgetown University Law Center protesting its treatment of senior lecturers. Ilya Shapiro served as director of Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies of the Cato Institute. Recent announcements made by the Georgetown Center for the Constitution announced that Shapiro was appointed as the Georgetown Center for the Constitution’s Executive Director and Senior Lecturer at the Georgetown University Law Center. His duties would begin on February 1, 2022.

Shapiro tweeted a number of messages on January 26 about the vacancy caused by Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement. Also, President Joe Biden declared that he will be choosing a black woman as the candidate for the position. Shapiro claimed that Biden’s announcement of a limit on the candidate pool would have excluded Shapiro, and as such the president would choose a “lesser-black woman”. Shapiro deleted the posts, and later apologized. But there was a controversy that led to demands for Shapiro’s firing by GULC. Shapiro was suspended by the dean of law school until an investigation into whether tweets violated university policies is completed.

Dean Treanor was written by the Academic Freedom Alliance explaining to him that Georgetown University Law Center was violating its policies regarding free expression. The school had been investigating one member of faculty over his tweets and threatened to end free speech protections for all faculty. Georgetown University Law Center doesn’t have an excellent record for standing up to academic freedom or free speech.

You can find the following letter in your mailbox:

Some private speech regarding controversial topics in politics and social life can become heated, angry, hurtful, or ill-considered. Extramural speech is not held to the same standards as speech in class or scholarly research. Faculty members who use social media to express their opinions on political issues will be subject to investigations and termination threats. The university would lose the freedom of expression protections it claims it provides to every member of its campus community. This includes faculty.

You can read the entire article here.