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With an eye on 2018 midterms, Democrats offer bill to weaken campus due process nationally

Would enforce practices recently overturned by trial and appeals courts

There’s only one explanation for why House Democrats introduced a sure-to-fail bill to enshrine one of the most loathed Obama administration programs among Republicans: midterm gains.

The misleadingly named Title IX Protection Act (HR-4030) would codify the nonbinding regulatory guidance that the Obama administration illegally used to threaten colleges’ federal funding, following the rescission of the guidance by the Trump administration last month.

The 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter forced schools to impose a low evidence standard in Title IX adjudications and weaken due process for accused students, which changed prior Department of Education rules yet never went through a regulatory rulemaking.

Its issuance was widely seen as intended to shore up President Barack Obama’s support for the 2012 presidential election, and it was followed in 2014 with a lengthy compliance Q&A document.

Bill sponsor Rep. Jackie Speier joined with her fellow Californian, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the ranking member of the House Education Committee, Bobby Scott, and the chair of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, Lois Frankel, to introduce the bill Thursday.

MORE: Feds stop ordering colleges to judge accused students by ‘preponderance’

Speier (below) said it was “egregious” that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos* will run a proper regulatory rulemaking, with full public comment, to devise new regulations on investigating campus sexual misconduct.

She flatly lied by saying the rescinded guidance “clarified schools’ responsibilities under Title IX,” and suggested without evidence that the results of a new rulemaking would return colleges to “a time when women who were raped were too afraid to come forward … because the system was rigged to sweep their cases under the rug”:

We aren’t going back to a time where a woman could be violated and her university would make pitiful excuses about being unable to take her side over her [alleged] attacker’s side or, worse yet, blame the [alleged] survivor for her assault because of so-called honor code violations. Going to a party, having a drink, or letting a date into your room isn’t a crime.

MORE: Judge overrules school that said any drinking negates sexual consent

Speier claims that practices frowned upon by the rescinded guidance – including cross-examination – “have been shown to be intimidating.” Recent federal district and appeals court rulings have upheld the necessity of some form of cross-examination in campus sexual misconduct proceedings.

Politico reported that Speier’s bill would also “discourage mediation,” which is explicitly authorized in the Department of Education’s interim guidance if both parties in an adjudication agree to it. (The bill text has not yet been added to its online congressional listing.)

One of the bill’s backers, End Rape on Campus, also has a new initiative that seeks to overcome assertions by law professors, journalists and accused students that Title IX investigations disproportionately target students of color.

Read Speier’s release and Politico‘s report.

MORE: Federal appeals court says cross-examination required in Title IX cases


IMAGE: Andrey Popov/Shutterstock

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Associate Editor
Greg Piper served as associate editor of The College Fix from 2014 to 2021.