Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Cancel culture comes to Georgetown Law

By Damon Linker The Week

Warnings about the rise of “cancel culture” may sometimes be overblown. But the case of Ilya Shapiro, a libertarian expert in constitutional law placed on “administrative leave” from Georgetown University’s law school, is an especially egregious example of the trend — and runs the risk of diminishing every person and institution involved.

In a subsequently deleted tweet posted one day before he was scheduled to take over as a senior lecturer and executive director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution, Shapiro wrote that the “objectively best pick” to succeed Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court was Sri Srinivasan, an Indian-born chief judge on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. But, Shapiro went on to lament, President Biden had already committed to choosing an as-yet unnamed Black woman for the role, ensuring the country would “get a lesser Black woman.”

The wording was sloppy, making it sound as if Shapiro considered every potential Black female nominee to be of “lesser” quality. The context makes clear he was comparing all potential nominees to Srinivasan, whom he considered the singularly best person for the job, regardless of ethnic or racial background, but that hasn’t mattered.

Nor has it mattered that Shapiro quickly deleted the tweet, clarified his point, and apologized. The brushfire of outrage was already lit. A few days later, Georgetown Law announced Shapiro had been placed on leave pending the outcome of an investigation, making it sound as if he may well end up being fired.

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