Georgetown law dean calls new hire's comments on Breyer replacement 'appalling'

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A man walks at an empty campus green at Georgetown University in Washington, U.S., April 3, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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  • Ilya Shapiro, due to join the law school next week, was rebuked over social media posts
  • Shapiro later said it was "inartful" to say the nomination would go to a "lesser black woman"

(Reuters) - The dean of Georgetown University Law Center on Thursday condemned a new faculty member's Twitter posts questioning the qualifications of any Black woman that President Joe Biden may nominate to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

“The tweets' suggestion that the best Supreme Court nominee could not be a Black woman and their use of demeaning language are appalling,” wrote dean Bill Treanor in a message to the law school community about comments posted Wednesday by Ilya Shapiro.

The law school said last week that Shapiro—currently director of the Cato Institute’s Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies—is joining its faculty on Feb. 1 as executive director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution.

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After news spread of Breyer’s retirement on Wednesday, Shapiro said on Twitter that D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan is the “objectively best pick” to replace him, but Srinivasan “doesn’t fit into latest intersectional hierarchy so we’ll get [a] lesser black woman."

Another tweet said that because Biden has vowed to nominate a Black woman for the court, "his nominee will always have an asterisk attached.” Shapiro has since deleted the messages.

Shapiro did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday but apologized on Twitter. “I meant no offense, but it was an inartful tweet,” he wrote.

Georgetown did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the messages or Shapiro's position at the school.

“The Tweets are at odds with everything we stand for at Georgetown Law and are damaging to the culture of equity and inclusion that Georgetown Law is building every day,” Treanor wrote.

Biden confirmed Thursday that he intends to nominate a Black woman to the high court, calling it “long overdue.”

Read more:

Biden vows to nominate Black woman to U.S. Supreme Court by end of February

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Karen Sloan reports on law firms, law schools, and the business of law. Reach her at karen.sloan@thomsonreuters.com