Ilya Shapiro Resigns From Georgetown Law, Blames Dean William Treanor For Embracing Anti-Free Expression “Hostile Work Environment”
“Dean William Treanor cleared me on the technicality that I wasn’t an employee when I tweeted, but the [DEI Office] implicitly repealed Georgetown’s Speech and Expression Policy and set me up for discipline the next time I transgress progressive orthodoxy. Instead of participating in that slow-motion firing, I’m resigning.”
Just about a week ago, Ilya Shapiro announced that he was being permitted to start work at Georgetown Law. We covered it, and the background, in Ilya Shapiro Returning To Georgetown Law After Suspension Over SCOTUS Nomination Tweet Lifted.
While many people celebrated this as a win for campus free speech and expression, I did not.:
Not surprisingly, Georgetown’s Dean William Treanor took the cowardly way out. Rather than owning up to Georgetown’s error, Treanor ended the punishment based on a finding that because the tweet took place pre-employment, it was not properly the subject of discipline. Treanor repeated the absured claim that the tweet could be construed “to disparage any Black woman the President might nominate,” and Treanor left open the issue that had the tweet taken place during employment, it could have been the subject of discipline. Here is Treanor’s statement to the community in full ….
Treanor imposed humiliating conditions on Shapiro’s return and deputized students and others to keep making complaints that might subject Shapiro to discipline or firing (emphasis added):
IDEAA [Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action] and HR have now completed their investigations, and I received their reports this morning. As Mr. Shapiro posted the tweets on January 26, 2022, but his employment did not start until February 1, 2022, IDEAA and HR concluded that Mr. Shapiro was not a Georgetown employee at the time of his tweets. As such, he was not properly subject to discipline for them. As a result, he can begin his work as Executive Director and he will, subject to the Law Center’s normal Office of Academic Affairs processes, be able to teach upper-class elective courses as a senior lecturer. At the same time, IDEAA and HR found that Mr. Shapiro’s tweets had a significant negative impact on the Georgetown Law community, including current and prospective students, alumni, staff, and faculty, and they recommended that I put in place actions to address the negative impact that the tweets had on the law school community.
I share this concern about the impact of Mr. Shapiro’s tweets on our community and on our efforts to build a culture of equity and inclusion at Georgetown Law and am following up on the recommendations of IDEAA and HR. I have met with Mr. Shapiro to discuss the tweets, which he had already acknowledged were “recklessly framed” and “inartful” and for which he has apologized. I stressed to Mr. Shapiro that, although he has every right to express his views, I expect him, as a staff member at the Law Center, to communicate in a professional manner. I requested he consult with his faculty supervisor at the Center for the Constitution, Professor Barnett, on how to ensure that his future communications in his capacity as a Law Center staff member are professional and comply with our University policies. Mr. Shapiro will also participate in programming on implicit bias, cultural competence, and non-discrimination, which the Law Center is requiring senior staff to attend. Finally, I expressed my concern that his tweets would potentially have the effect of making some students feel unwelcome in any elective course he might teach. To that end, I have asked him to make himself available to meet with student leaders concerned about his ability to treat students fairly.
Shapiro was going to have to keep his mouth shut for anything other than the progressive agenda, or be at risk. It would be a terrible way to live, and Dean Treanor should go down in infamy for imposing such conditions and doing lasting damage to free expression at Georgetown Law and elsewhere.
Shapiro apparently decided that living under the thumb of the mob and a cowardly Dean was not something he could tolerate, and he announced today that he is resigning.
Although I scored a technical victory last week and was reinstated, @GeorgetownLaw and its diversicrats created a hostile work environment that made my remaining on the job untenable. https://t.co/F4vo8ZYcMe
— Ilya Shapiro (@ishapiro) June 6, 2022
Here are excerpts from an Op-ed in The Wall Street Journal by Shapiro announcing Why I Quit Georgetown:
After a four-month investigation into a tweet, the Georgetown University Law Center reinstated me last Thursday. But after full consideration of the report I received later that afternoon from the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action, or IDEAA, and on consultation with counsel and trusted advisers, I concluded that remaining in my job was untenable.
Dean William Treanor cleared me on the technicality that I wasn’t an employee when I tweeted, but the IDEAA implicitly repealed Georgetown’s Speech and Expression Policy and set me up for discipline the next time I transgress progressive orthodoxy. Instead of participating in that slow-motion firing, I’m resigning.
IDEAA speciously found that my tweet criticizing President Biden for limiting his Supreme Court pool by race and sex required “appropriate corrective measures” to address my “objectively offensive comments and to prevent the recurrence of offensive conduct based on race, gender, and sex.” Mr. Treanor reiterated these concerns in a June 2 statement, further noting the “harmful” nature of my tweets….
IDEAA asserts that if I “were to make another, similar or more serious remark as a Georgetown employee, a hostile environment based on race, gender, and sex likely would be created.” All sorts of comments that someone could find offensive would subject me to disciplinary action. Consider the following hypotheticals:
• I laud Supreme Court decisions that overrule Roe v. Wade and protect the right to carry arms. An activist claims that my comments “deny women’s humanity” and makes her feel “unsafe” and “directly threatened with physical violence.”
• After I meet with students concerned about my ability to treat everyone fairly, as Mr. Treanor asked me to do, one attendee files a complaint calling me “disingenuous” and the “embodiment of white supremacy.”
• When the Supreme Court hears the Harvard and University of North Carolina affirmative-action cases this fall, I opine that the Constitution bans racial preferences. Hundreds of Georgetown stakeholders sign a letter asserting that my comments “are antithetical to the work that we do here every day to build inclusion, belonging, and respect for diversity” (borrowing the language from Mr. Treanor’s statements of Jan. 31 and June 2).
* * *
I could go on, but you get the idea. It is the Georgetown administrators who have created a hostile work environment for me.
Shapiro pointed out that only certain speech is punished at Georgetown Law:
Fundamentally, what Mr. Treanor has done—what he’s allowed IDEAA to do—is repeal the Speech and Expression Policy that he claims to hold dear. The freedom to speak is no freedom at all if it makes an exception for speech someone finds offensive or counter to some nebulous conception of equity.
Georgetown’s treatment of me shows how the university applies even these self-contradicting “principles” inconsistently depending on ideology. Contrast my case with these recent examples:
• In 2018, Prof. Carol Christine Fair of the School of Foreign Service tweeted during Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process: “Look at this chorus of entitled white men justifying a serial rapist’s arrogated entitlement. All of them deserve miserable deaths while feminists laugh as they take their last gasps. Bonus: we castrate their corpses and feed them to swine? Yes.” Georgetown held this to be protected speech.
• In 2020, Prof. Heidi Feldblum of the Law Center tweeted that “law professors and law school deans” should “not support applications from our students to clerk for” judges appointed by President Trump. “To work for such a judge,” Ms. Feldblum continued, “indelibly marks a lawyer as lacking in the character and judgment necessary for the practice of law.” These comments could threaten the careers of all conservative and libertarian students, or anyone who clerks for duly confirmed but disfavored judges. But Georgetown took no action.
• In April of this year—months after my tweet—Ms. Feldblum tweeted: “We have only one political party in this country, the Democrats. The other group is a combination of a cult and an insurrection-supporting crime syndicate.” She went on: “The only ethically and politically responsible stance to take toward the Republican ‘party’ is to consistently point out that it is no longer a legitimate participant in U.S. constitutional democracy.” Unlike me, Ms. Feldblum teaches first-year law students in mandatory courses. This pattern of remarks created a hostile educational environment for Republican students—a protected class under District of Columbia antidiscrimination law. The tweets were quietly deleted without apology or disciplinary action.
• Last month, law professor Josh Chafetz tweeted: “The ‘protest at the Supreme Court, not at the justices’ houses’ line would be more persuasive if the Court hadn’t this week erected fencing to prevent protesters from coming anywhere near it.” He added, “When the mob is right, some (but not all!) more aggressive tactics are justified.” Later, he invited “folks” to “snitch tag @GeorgetownLaw” and taunted that the school was “not going to fire me over a tweet you don’t like.”
Mr. Chafetz was surely right about the last point. Apparently it’s free speech for thee, not for me.
We covered the Chafetz controversy here, Georgetown Law Prof Supports Mobs Protesting at Homes of SCOTUS Justices. Here was my take:
Proliferating IDEAA-style offices enforce an orthodoxy that stifles intellectual diversity, undermines equal opportunity, and excludes dissenting voices. Even the dean of an elite law school bucks these bureaucrats at his peril….
I won’t live this way.
Shapiro’s Resignation Letter stated pretty much what was in the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed.
Undoubtedly Shapiro could not live that way, He was a marked man at Georgetown Law, either taking a knee for things he did not believe in and begging for the mercy of the howling mob and educrats, or risking discipline. There no doubt will be celebrations at Georgetown Law, a hollowed-out institution.
This whole process – the attack, the sham “investigation,” and the Dean’s pathetic letter send a message to law firms, judges, academia: Georgetown is providing a subpar legal education, and you probably don’t want to work there or hire their students. It’s that simple.
— Rachel Jessica Wolff (@RachelJessWolff) June 6, 2022
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What happens now? Can he sue these batards?
For what? They didn’t break their contract with him. He resigned.
A hostile work environment does not require that you remain in employment. However, the bar for proof is high and astronomically so in a lefty DC court.
A hostile work environment is not against any law. Having a hostile work environment for people of a particular sex or race can constitute employment discrimination against them on the grounds of sex or race, but that’s not alleged here.
That’s not entirely true. There’s limited language for retaliatory behavior after participating in an investigation (which has already happened), but as I said, the bar is very difficult to prove.
Dean Treanor is so so deserving of a Profile-in-Putty award.
I disagree. That’s giving him too much credit. It looks to me like he got exactly what he wanted. While pretending to be fair, he still got rid of the infidel.
That ain’t “putty.” It’s evil.
Now intentionally misinterpreted tweets are akin to sticks and stones.
People on the right must build their own institutions. There’s no other way.
So what does Georgetown Law stand for? Justice for thee but not for me? Hatred of Republicans? They are blatantly partisan, and well past the point of return. How sad that everything in DC is contaminated, even a formerly reputable law school. If only the Swamp would simply swalloiw them all.
Also, the Dean is a coward.
In a word, shyster.
Personally, I would have liked to see him remain there and continue to provoke them and dare them to fire him. Then when they did fire him, to institute a huge lawsuit.
But I understand what a hellhole the dean and the Mob would make it for him, and you would have to be an incredibly thick-skinned person to survive. The Mob would try their best to make him commit suicide, like in other cases where they have killed off their targets.
I certainly agree with you, but there is a contingent here that went and attacked the character of a group of young (some still late teens) girls on the Penn swim team for remaining and competing under the thumb of their university.
I wonder if they will have anything to say about this move to just “quit”.
Maybe the pushback to such policies could be “DSE:..designate, segregate, eliminate.
I thought Leftists can’t tell the difference between a man and a woman, and that race is just a social construct. So, how can IDEAA determine whether Mr. Shapiro’s tweets about Brandon’s requirements for a Supreme Court justice require “appropriate corrective measures”?
Mr. Shapiro deserves much kudos for his intellectual honesty in resigning,. I look forward to purchasing and reading his book on SCOTUS and other writings .
There is no doubt that the “Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action, or IDEA” industry is strangling freedom of speech in universities all over the US
A fascinating interview with Ilya Shapiro on his resignation from Georgetown