Biden Education Nominee Wants To Swap Presumption Of Innocence For ‘Possibility’ Of Innocence

Biden Education Nominee Wants To Swap Presumption Of Innocence For ‘Possibility’ Of Innocence

It’s been obvious for a long time that Democrats no longer believe in due process, particularly when it comes to sexual harassment claims. Believe all women!

But there’s something bone chilling about hearing one of their most prominent figures say it as plainly as Catherine Lhamon did Tuesday at her confirmation hearing.

Lhamon is President Joe Biden’s pick to be the assistant secretary for civil rights at the Education Department. Her greatest hits include signing the 2014 Obama-era “Dear Colleague” letter that pressured higher education institutions under Title IX’s anti-discriminatory statute to more aggressively pursue sexual harassment claims in ways that were often shockingly unfair to the accused.

In 2020, under then-secretary Betsy DeVos, the department issued a formal rule on the matter. Democrats, including Biden, suffered a psychotic break because the new changes put in place a formal process that, unlike the Dear Colleague guidance, considered both the needs of the victims and the right of the accused to properly defend his or herself.

Biden said after the rule change was announced in May 2020 that it “gives colleges a green light to ignore sexual violence” and he vowed to end it when he took office.

In a tweet at the time of the change, Lhamon said that DeVos “presides over taking us back to the bad old days, that predate my birth, when it was permissible to rape and sexually harass students with impunity.”

Asked at Tuesday’s hearing about that charming little note, Lhamon defended it and said she believed that as the department’s rule stands today, it permits the sexual assault of a student without consequence for the assailant.

“I think the regulation— I think what I said in the tweet, so the regulation permits students to rape and sexually harass with impunity,” she said. “I think that the law, that the regulation has weakened the intent of Title IX that congress wrote.”

It’s absurd. The DeVos changes did no such thing. What they did was create procedures that all public schools and universities would have to follow to ensure the protection of sexual harassment victims while also giving the accused every opportunity to defend himself against the allegations, including the right to see all evidence against him and representation in cross-examination of all relevant parties.

We used to call that the right to due process. Democrats now call it the right “to rape and sexually harass with impunity.”

At the end of the hearing, Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina asked Lhamon to clarify whether she believed the rules on sexual harassment at the Education Department should inherently include the presumption of innocence of the accused. It should be to no one’s surprise that Lhamon did not hesitate to say “absolutely.”

Of course that’s not what happened. What she actually said was that school investigators should start with no assumption at all, but merely be “open to the possibility” that the accused person is innocent.

“My view is that civil rights investigators, investigators at school need to start from the presumption that the facts are what they are and they need to find out what they are,” she said. “So they shouldn’t be assuming somebody is guilty because a person has been accused. Guilt is not even the right word. Now I’ve walked into the criminal process.”

And then she delivered the goods. “They shouldn’t be assuming that someone is responsible because a person has been accused,” she said. “They should be open to the possibility that the person is not.”

The whole thing was like watching a gender reveal party that results in an irrepressible forest fire.

This is where the Democratic Party has been for a long time. But now that they’re in the White House, they’re a lot more comfortable saying it out loud.

Eddie Scarry is the D.C. columnist at The Federalist and author of "Privileged Victims: How America's Culture Fascists Hijacked the Country and Elevated Its Worst People."
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