Joe Biden has learned nothing from the Title IX due process disaster plaguing America’s campuses. The former vice president has released a plan on his website to restore the Obama administration’s infamous 2011 Dear Colleague letter, which Biden’s plan describes as outlining how to “fairly conduct Title IX proceedings.” In reality, the Dear Colleague letter introduced a monstrously unfair process that has forced hundreds of young men to sue for their rights — and reputations — in federal courts.
An accused’s rights to confront his or her accuser through cross examination and to have a neutral adjudicator have long been considered the very basics of due process. In the name of protecting women, the 2011 guidance encouraged universities to abandon these well-tested pillars in favor of a single-investigator model, in which a Title IX administrator both elicits the stories from the involved parties and rules on the outcome. The Dear Colleague letter also pushed universities into lowering the standard of proof and discouraged any kind of cross examination that might probe discrepancies in an alleged victim’s story.
Cynthia Garrett is a California attorney and co-president of Families Advocating for Campus Equality (FACE), an organization that advocates for due process and offers resources to the falsely accused. She says she is deeply concerned that Biden appears to be unaware of the downsides of the 2011 guidance.
“It’s particularly concerning that a presidential candidate seems oblivious to the unintended repercussions of a policy he championed. Over 500 lawsuits have been filed by accused students since the 2011 Dear Colleague letter, resulting in at least 161 court decisions in these students’ favor and over 100 pre-decision settlements,” Garrett said.
She also added that to her knowledge, Biden did not even reach out to organizations concerned about due process or any of the families of those suing their universities before pronouncing the Obama administration action an unalloyed good that should be restored.
Under Secretary Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s Department of Education withdrew the Obama-era guidance and proposed a new, fairer rule, which among other changes ensures that those accused of Title IX misconduct on campus have access to a fair adjudicator, the advice of counsel, and the ability to question (through third parties) their accusers. Now, leading Democratic candidate Biden says he will restore the madhouse that federal judges have excoriated as “enough to shock the Court’s conscience.”
Many got their first up-close look at the kangaroo court processes often used to adjudicate allegations of sexual assault on college campuses during the confirmation of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh. At that time, regardless of their beliefs about the truth of the allegations, nearly 70 percent of Americans were appalled by the mishandled process.
Is it any wonder that in the wake of watching the Kavanaugh hearings, in which a man with an impeccable record had his reputation nationally and permanently trashed by allegations countered by all the available evidence, more American men reported they’d rather be falsely accused of murder than sexual misconduct? In that same poll, almost 60 percent of both the men and women surveyed said society presumes a man accused of sexual assault to be guilty.
While we should of course have sympathy for victims of sexual assault, the unfair process Biden blithely promises to restore has victims as well. FACE collects some of their stories, mostly anonymized to protect the young men and their families still traumatized and ashamed by their experiences with unfair campus adjudication.
It’s doubtless true that many women have negative experiences in the alcohol-fueled hookup culture prevalent on most American universities, but attempting to cram the genie back in the bottle with over-broad definitions of consent and unfair processes just creates more victims. And the kangaroo processes necessary to punish men for failing to read women’s minds in ambiguous situations infantilize women, as well as cheapen the experiences of real rape victims.
Acknowledgement and sympathy for victims must not come at the expense of the most critical principles underlying American justice, which protect men and women alike. By signaling his intention to restore the Obama administration’s unfair guidance, Biden is showing voters he is willing to eviscerate those principles to please far-left activists.