Legal Education

Former Georgetown Law scholar who tweeted about 'lesser Black woman' announces new job

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A legal scholar who was set to lead the Georgetown University Law Center’s Georgetown Center for the Constitution announced Tuesday that he’s joining the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

Ilya Shapiro ran into controversy after making a series of tweets, which are now deleted, stating that a “lesser black woman” would likely be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a June 7 tweet, Shapiro described the think tank, founded by William Casey, a former CIA director, as “a terrific organization making valuable counterintuitive policy points and home to many friends.”

Shapiro apologized for the tweets in question. They centered around his opinion that Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit would be the best choice for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s replacement.

“But alas doesn’t fit into latest intersectionality hierarchy so we’ll get lesser Black woman,” Shapiro wrote in a tweet, according to the Washington Post.

That tweet was posted in January, and Shapiro was scheduled to start the Georgetown Law position in February. Instead, the university opened an internal investigation and placed Shapiro on paid administrative leave, according to a Jan. 31 article from the Washington Post.

By June 1, it was found that Shapiro was not “properly subject to discipline” because his tweets were made before he started working at Georgetown Law according to a June 2 article from the Washington Post.

Shapiro tweeted June 2 that he was “gratified” to get the job that he was hired for and looking forward to his work with Georgetown Law.

Less than a week later, on June 6, Shapiro tweeted the four-page, single-space, resignation letter that he submitted to Georgetown Law. It references an Office of Institutional Diversity, Equality and Affirmative Action report but does not include a copy of it. According to Shapiro’s letter, the report found that “appropriate corrective measures” were needed to prevent something similar from happening again.

Shapiro also wrote that the report found that his tweet could limit Black female students’ access to his courses and discourage them from seeking internships and employment at the center. In the letter, Shapiro claimed that he deleted the tweet before students were likely to see it.

“Screen captures of the tweet were then disseminated by others seeking to harm me because of my political views. It was they, not I, who intentionally and knowingly caused any harm to any student who later came to learn of and read their screen captures of my tweet,” he wrote.

The letter is addressed to William M. Treanor, dean of the law school, and referenced a meeting with him.

“You told me when we met last week that you wanted me to be successful in my new role, and that you will ‘have my back.’ But instead, you’ve painted a target on my back such that I could never do the job I was hired for, advancing the mission of the Center for the Constitution,” Shapiro wrote.

In a statement, a Georgetown University spokesperson wrote that the school urges members of its community to engage in “robust and respectful” dialogue.

“While we protect speech and expression, we work to promote civil and respectful discourse. In reviewing Mr. Shapiro’s conduct, the university followed the regular processes for members of the law center staff,” according to the statement.

Shapiro and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research did not immediately respond to an ABA Journal interview request.

See also: “Georgetown Law retains incoming scholar despite his ‘lesser Black woman’ tweet” “Georgetown Law dean blasts new hire for now-deleted tweets on future Biden SCOTUS nominee” “Georgetown Law places new hire on administrative leave after ‘lesser Black woman’ tweet”

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