Liberal SCOTUS justice gets friendlier reception in higher ed than conservatives

News that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer joining Harvard Law School was well-received by faculty.

Last month, Campus Reform reported that a petition to fire Justice Clarence Thomas circulated at George Washington University for his opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Harvard University scholars' reaction to Justice Stephen Breyer joining its law school stands in contrast to negative reactions conservative justices have faced at other higher education institutions. 

When Harvard announced on July 15 that liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer would join as the Byrne Professor of Administrative Law and Process, Harvard faculty welcomed Breyer, commending his character and judicial record.

Former dean of Harvard Law, Martha Minow, for example, was quoted in the announcement as saying "From his pioneering work on deregulation to his ongoing writings about judicial method, Justice Breyer has been one of the most influential contributors to American law and policy for decades."

Harvard Law professor Cass Sunstein, also quoted in the announcement, said, "Justice Breyer is in the highest ranks of the leading figures in administrative law."

[RELATED: Students want to cancel this Supreme Court Chief Justice]

By contrast, conservative Supreme Court justices have recently met opposition to their involvement at law schools. 

Last month, for example, Campus Reform reported that a petition to fire Justice Clarence Thomas circulated at George Washington University (GW) for his opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Students claimed that Thomas' opinion threatened the rights of queer people and “people with wombs.”

Though the university's administration issued a statement solidifying Thomas’ faculty position, the petition garnered over 11,300 signatures.

Campus Reform Correspondent Tahmineh Dehbozorgi spoke out against the outrage mob on Fox News shortly thereafter and defended Thomas, stating that the petition was “just another cancel culture case motivated by an emotional response to something that students just don’t like.”

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A similar case occurred in in 2019, when students at George Mason University (GMU) opposed the administration’s decision to hire Justice Brett Kavanaugh to teach a constitutional law course.

Mason for Survivors, a student group on campus, accused university administrators of “negligence” to protect sexual assault survivors and started a petition to remove Kavanaugh.

Its petition topped 15,100 signatures.

Students have also protested conservative Supreme Court justice appearances on campus.

In May, Campus Reform reported that students flocked to the doors of GMU’s Arlington Campus to protest a virtual speech delivered by Justice Samuel Alito.

The protestors condemned Alito for writing the majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

Last month, Yale University alumni used their 35-year class reunion to protest Justice Kavanaugh. Members of the group were former classmates of the justice disgruntled with his then-anticipated vote on the Dobbs decision.

Campus Reform contacted Harvard, Rakoff, and Breyer for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

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