Betsy DeVos Protects the Due Process Rights of Those Accused of Sexual Assaults on Campus — And Joe Biden Doesn’t Like It

Title IX of the federal code bars discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal funding. The law also protects the rights of individuals who are the victims of sexual assaults on campus and those accused of such assaults.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced actions she took to strengthen Title IX to protect sexual assault victims and restore due process on college campuses (emphasis added):

“Too many students have lost access to their education because their school inadequately responded when a student filed a complaint of sexual harassment or sexual assault,” said Secretary DeVos. “This new regulation requires schools to act in meaningful ways to support survivors of sexual misconduct, without sacrificing important safeguards to ensure a fair and transparent process. We can and must continue to fight sexual misconduct in our nation’s schools, and this rule makes certain that fight continues.”

FIRE, an organization that advocates for the First Amendment rights of students and faculty members in the nation’s colleges and universities, considers Sec. DeVos’s changes a victory for the rights of the accused and a repudiation of Barack Obama’s changes to Title IX, which weakened those rights.

The regulations also affirm institutions’ ability to use the “clear and convincing” standard of evidence, which the government previously forced schools to abandon in 2011 for the lower “preponderance” standard in sexual misconduct cases.

Just like in a court of law, schools must produce evidence of the sexual assault, and the accused must be able to confront the accuser. Among the changes, as FIRE noted, there is an express presumption of innocence and impartial investigators and decision-makers.

But Joe Biden doesn’t like the change. He told The Hill that if elected president, he’d reverse Sec. DeVos’s protections for the accused.

“It’s wrong. And, it will be put to a quick end in January 2021, because as president, I’ll be right where I always have been throughout my career — on the side of survivors, who deserve to have their voices heard, their claims taken seriously and investigated, and their rights upheld.”

Has anyone noted the irony that Biden is accused of sexual assault, which he denies, yet he opposes stronger protections for students who might be falsely accused?

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons) – Some rights reserved

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