Today, Georgetown University Law Center finally reinstated Ilya Shapiro as the senior lecturer and executive director for the Georgetown Center for the Constitution after a 122-day investigation into a 45-word tweet.
Since day one, FIRE advocated on behalf of Shapiro and his rights to freedom of expression and academic freedom. This is a welcome result, but it should not take a four-month investigation to reinstate a faculty member for clearly-protected political expression. Such investigations cast a harsh chilling effect on all faculty, threatening the open exchange of ideas Georgetown unambiguously promises to protect.
Shapiro took to Twitter again today to announce that he’ll be back to work tomorrow.
Faculty, students, alumni, and the public must now ask whether Georgetown’s free speech promises mean anything at all. Georgetown could have avoided this embarrassing debacle — which helped earn the institution a spot on FIRE’s 2022 Worst Colleges for Free Speech list — simply by living up to its own commitments.
Faculty members facing punishment for their protected expression should contact FIRE’s Faculty Legal Defense Fund for assistance.