WASHINGTON — A petition that has been circulating online calls for George Washington University to remove U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas from teaching.
The uproar comes after the Friday ruling on abortion rights that overturned Roe v. Wade, ending nearly 50 years of federally guaranteed access to abortion.
The petition to have him removed already has more than 3,700 signatures and is making headway towards its current goal of 5,000 as of Monday.
Thomas was one of the concurring justices in the 5-4 decision to overturn Roe, and in the opinion, also said the Supreme Court should reconsider previous rulings, such as marriage equality and access to contraception. He currently serves as a lecturer in law at the university.
"With the recent Supreme Court decision that has stripped the right to bodily autonomy of people with wombs, and with 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, it is evident that the employment of Clarence Thomas at George Washington University is completely unacceptable," the user who created the petition - with the screen name John Kay - wrote in its description. "While also factoring in his wife's part in the attempted coup in January of 2021, Judge Thomas is actively making life unsafe for thousands of students on our campus (not to mention thousands of campuses across the country). Make your voice heard and help us kick Clarence Thomas out of Foggy Bottom."
On Tuesday, the university's College Republicans group reached out to WUSA9 to share their own statement regarding the petition, stating their strong opposition to seeing Thomas removed from his position.
“One of the principal assets of our school is learning from figures across the ideological spectrum," the group stated. "While many students at GW are displeased with his rulings on particular cases, the free exchange of ideas and opinions should be valued - not discouraged - at an institution of higher learning like ours. Removing Justice Thomas from the university will do the greatest disservice to those most fervently propagating this petition.”
Since the initial Supreme Court decision was announced, President Joe Biden has also spoken out about Thomas' remarks.
"He explicitly called to reconsider the right of marriage equality, the right of couples to make their choices on contraception. This is an extreme and dangerous path the court is now taking us on,” Biden said.
In an email sent Tuesday afternoon to the GWU community, the university said it would not "terminate Justice Thomas' employment nor cancel his class in response to his legal opinions."
"Justice Thomas’ views do not represent the views of either the George Washington University or its Law School," the letter said. "Additionally, like all faculty members at our university, Justice Thomas has academic freedom and freedom of expression and inquiry.”
WUSA9 has reached out to Justice Thomas for comment regarding the petition, but so far, has not heard back. This article will be updated if/when we receive those statements.