On Ilya Shapiro, Cancel Culture, and Color Blindness

AuthorHon. James C. Ho
PositionRemarks to the Georgetown University Law Center Chapter of the Federalist Society (Feb. 15, 2022)
On Ilya Shapiro, Cancel Culture, and Color
Months ago, I was scheduled to talk with you all today about a subject that I’m
very passionate about. The remarks were entitled Fair-Weather Originalism:
Judges, Umpires, and the Fear of Being Booed.
But I hope you won’t mind that I’ve decided to address a different topic today
instead. Depending on how it goes, you all can decide whether to invite me back
someday to deliver my original remarks. I’ll leave that up to you all.
I’m going to spend my time today talking about Ilya Shapiro, who was recently
appointed to serve as executive director and senior lecturer at the Center for the
Constitution here at Georgetown. As you all know, there is now a heated debate
first, over the content of a recent tweet that he made and then deleted, and sec-
ond, over what, if anything, Georgetown should do in response to his tweet.
With your indulgence, I’ll briefly address both of those issues. I’ll take them in
reverse order.
First, what should Georgetown do?
I’ll begin with this observation: There are many, many people who love this
country deeplywho want it to succeed, and to continue succeedingwho abhor
racism with every fiber of their beingand who fall on both sides of this debate.
I would submit that, if I were a law student today, and I strongly disagreed with
remarks made by someone who had just recently been hired by my law school,
the last thing I would do is to call for that person to be fired.
In conversations like this, people will often bring up the First Amendment.
You might hear someone quote Justice Holmes, who wrote that the best test
of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the
Or someone might invoke Justice Brandeis, who wrote that [t]hose who won
our independence by revolution were not cowards.
They had confidence in the
*© 2022, Judge James C. Ho. Remarks to the Georgetown University Law Center Chapter of the
Federalist Society (Feb. 15, 2022).
1. Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616, 630 (1919) (Holmes, J., dissenting).
2. Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 377 (1927) (Brandeis, J., concurring).

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