Law students appear to place feelings over legal precedent is protesting his lessons.
It has been decades now that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been a hot button subject for those on the left. It was nearly thirty years ago when his confirmation was upended by the surprise testimony of Anita Hill, alleging a string of sexual harassment that had previously never been mentioned by her, nor aany others. Despite her testimony being revealed as untrustworthy and his appointment to SCOTUS going through to this day he still absorbs the charge of guilt.
The recent announcement that Thomas will be doing a brief professorship at the University of Florida has been met with resistance from a group of law students on the Gainesville campus. Thomas will be leading a concentrated course on the religious clauses concerning the First Amendment. To have a law school being granted this type of work from a sitting high court justice is an honor. One group of students sees this as an affront.
The instantly formed group of law students called We Believe Survivors has penned a letter of disapproval they sent to the campus newspaper. There is much about this letter that makes little sense and seems driven entirely by misplaced emotion. First is the matter of Thomas being basically cleared of the accusations from Hill those many years ago. During the confirmation hearing Anita Hill’s testimony was contradicted by evidence. Words she attributed to Thomas were found to actually be culled from popular culture.
More curious was the woman who said she was damaged by this alleged behavior was documented as continuing to work with Thomas, even following him to another job after when the activities were said to have happened. Records showed the two remained in contact long after they stopped working together.
That a group of law students can overlook the problematic evidence and assign guilt, absent presumption of innocence, is a remarkable blindspot towards their desired profession. The other problem with their letter is that they cite on campus issues regarding harassment that have nothing to do with Clarence Thomas, and they bring up the episode of Christine Blasey-Ford during last year’s confirmation hearing on Brett Kavanaugh.
The letter supposedly takes issue with the administration in its decision to bring Thomas on campus to teach. But confusion abounds, as it actually states that the administration has been proper in addressing matters of sexual harassment on campus, and it praises the way campus officials supported the cause of Blasey-Ford. So the conclusion is that they simply just do not like Clarence Thomas, thus how dare a law school invites a SCOTUS Justice to teach.
One member of this new group did possibly address how their outrage is not justified by the legal evidence — sort of. Dalia Figurado told Law.com that they were not effectively trying Justice Thomas as a guilty party. “It’s about holding our administration accountable and for them to acknowledge the concerns students may have.” That would be the same administration it has praised for proper conduct on these matters. So even if their outrage is misplaced, and not supported by facts, the concerns of the students take priority over the result.
This is strictly an emotional reaction, and they are making demands based solely on their “concerns” and not on the facts and evidence. It is a good thing they are still in school, as it appears they still have plenty to learn when it comes to the law.