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Cowardly Republicans defend due process for Kavanaugh but not accused students

Where are you, Susan Collins?

The Republican Party supports due process for wealthy white men, such as Brett Kavanaugh and Donald Trump. And only wealthy white men.

It’s hard to come to any other conclusion, given how sparingly elected Republicans have discussed the importance of careful deliberation when it comes to sexual-misconduct allegations in any other context.

They certainly aren’t coming to the defense of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos* as she seeks to institute basic protections for accused students – disproportionately nonwhite – in Title IX proceedings.

That’s clear from the research of KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor, co-authors of The Campus Rape Frenzy, published in The Weekly Standard.

They note that “congressional Republicans have been almost silent” when it comes to “the railroading of hundreds of college students on ‘sexual misconduct’ charges considerably flimsier than those leveled against Kavanaugh.”

The only “serious” support for the Department of Education’s proposed Title IX regulation in the House is the outgoing chair of the education committee, Rep. Virginia Foxx, and her Senate counterpart Lamar Alexander was “initially” the only senator to defend the proposal.

Only one other Republican on Alexander’s committee has responded to their requests: Bill Cassidy, who told Johnson and Taylor he supports DeVos’s work to grant accusers and accused due process “on every campus.”

Not even Sen. Susan Collins, “who had been so eloquent about the importance of the presumption of innocence when the accused was a powerful jurist rather than a simple college student,” has responded to their request for comment on the proposed regulation.

Their silence is particularly cowardly given the ludicrous, evidence-free, media-regurgitated criticisms from congressional Democrats: fairness in Title IX proceedings would “drown out the voices of victims” (Dianne Feinstein), deny “survivors” due process (Nancy Pelosi) and take America “back to the Stone Age” (Jackie Speier).

Some Republicans below the congressional level have done worse. New Hampshire’s Republican governor called on DeVos to junk the proposal, issuing junk statistics about campus rape. The Republican leader of New Jersey’s senate threw his weight behind the creation of a campus sexual assault commission with plenty of pro-accuser figures but “no one specializing in defending accused students or representing a civil-liberties organization,” Johnson and Taylor write.

Given what a premium elected Republicans put on confirming like-minded judges to the bench, it’s stunning how much out of sync the former is with the latter on this issue.

Two of the federal judges on President Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist, Amy Coney Barrett and Amul Thapar, have scolded universities that failed to allow any form of cross-examination in proceedings.

Thapar wrote the opinion that enshrined the right to cross-examination in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, “one of more than 100 federal and state court decisions since 2011 in which universities found themselves on the losing side in lawsuits brought by students accused of sexual assault,” Johnson and Taylor write:

In their rulings, judges have cited pervasive pro-accuser bias among academic officials; secret training of adjudicators to believe accusers even in the face of discrediting evidence; bans on meaningful cross-examination; concealment of exculpatory evidence; designation of a single bureaucrat as investigator, prosecutor, judge, and jury; and numerous other due-process outrages.

About the only positive sign for due process in the Trump administration besides DeVos is the president’s nominee for attorney general, William Barr.

Though loathed by civil libertarians in just about every other respect, Barr wrote a blurb for The Campus Rape Frenzy that slammed “campus panels operating without any semblance of due process and all too frequently on the basis of grossly inadequate information.”

Now is the chance for congressional Republicans to show “their demands for fairness to Kavanaugh go beyond partisan politics,” and speak up for the less privileged students who find themselves at the mercy of kangaroo courts.

*Disclosure

MORE: DeVos proposes cross-examination, same evidence standard for all

IMAGE: rangizzz/Shutterstock

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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