© 2024 Blaze Media LLC. All rights reserved.
Federal judge scraps planned speech in order to deliver powerful defense of conservative scholar targeted by cancel culture
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Federal judge scraps planned speech in order to deliver powerful defense of conservative scholar targeted by cancel culture

Federal Judge James Ho, who sits on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, was scheduled to speak at Georgetown Law School on Tuesday about originalism, a topic in constitutional legal theory.

Instead, he dedicated his speech to Ilya Shapiro, a conservative legal scholar who became a target of cancel culture last month.

What is the background?

Ilya Shapiro was slated to join the faculty of Georgetown Law School as a senior lecturer and as executive director of the law school's Center for the Constitution on Feb. 1. But that all changed after he condemned President Joe Biden's promise to seemingly nominate only a black woman to replace Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court.

"Objectively best pick for Biden is Sri Srinivasan, who is solid prog & v smart," Shapiro tweeted, referring to the Chief United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. "Even has identity politics benefit of being first Asian (Indian) American. But alas doesn't fit into latest intersectionality hierarchy so we'll get lesser black woman. Thank heaven for small favors."

"Because Biden said he's only consider black women for SCOTUS, his nominee will always have an asterisk attached. Fitting that the Court takes up affirmative action next term," he said in a follow-up tweet.

The remarks triggered intense backlash that was led by Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern. Students at Georgetown Law School even demanded "reparations" and a place to "cry" because of Shapiro's tweets.

Despite apologizing for his "poor choice of words, which undermined my message that nobody should be discriminated against for his or her skin color," Georgetown placed Shapiro on administrative leave. Afterward, Shapiro expressed hope that, pending the school's investigation, he would be "vindicated."

What did Ho say?

Speaking to the Georgetown Federalist Society Chapter, Ho acknowledged that he was scheduled to speak about originalism, but decided to use his time for another important issue.

"I’m going to spend my time today talking about Ilya Shapiro," Ho told students.

According to National Review, Ho discussed three important issues related to the Shapiro controversy: Cancel culture, freedom of speech, and the substance of Shapiro's criticism.

  • Cancel culture: Ho said that "cancel culture is not just antithetical to our constitutional culture and our American culture," but it is "completely antithetical to the very legal system that each of you seeks to join."
  • Freedom of speech: According to Reason, Ho said, "If you disagree with Ilya Shapiro — if you think his understanding of the law is absurd — if you think his vision for our country is awful — here's what I say: Bring him onto campus — and beat him!" He also described freedom of speech as "the foundation of our entire adversarial system of justice." Ho told students, "You must understand your opponent’s views in order to fully understand, and thus powerfully defend, your own views."
  • Discrimination: Describing equal opportunity as a tenet behind "why America truly is the greatest nation on earth," Ho said, "So make no mistake: If there is any racial discrimination in statements like [Shapiro's], it's not coming from the speaker—it's coming from the policy that the speaker is criticizing. That's the unfortunate irony in this whole discussion. If you asked Ilya, I am sure he would say that he's the one standing up for racial equality, and that his opponents are the ones who are supporting racial discrimination. You don't have to agree with him — but it's obvious that's where he's coming from. And yet I don't hear Ilya trying to punish others for taking a different view on racial equality."

Remarkably, Ho ended his speech by saying that if Shapiro should be canceled, then he should be, too.

"Ilya has said that he should have chosen different words. That ought to be enough," Ho said, Reason reported. "I stand with Ilya on the paramount importance of color-blindness. And that same principle should apply whether we're talking about getting into college, getting your first job, or receiving an appointment to the highest court in the land. Racism is a scourge that America has not yet fully extinguished—and the first step in fighting racial discrimination is to stop practicing it."

"That's all Ilya is trying to say. That's all he has ever tried to say," Ho added. "And so, if Ilya Shapiro is deserving of cancellation, then you should go ahead and cancel me too."

Want to leave a tip?

We answer to you. Help keep our content free of advertisers and big tech censorship by leaving a tip today.
Want to join the conversation?
Already a subscriber?
Chris Enloe

Chris Enloe

Staff Writer

Chris Enloe is a staff writer for Blaze News
@chrisenloe →