November 24, 2018


Feminists' Undue Process: Ideologues react hysterically to the Trump administration's suggested reforms to campus-rape tribunals. (Heather Mac Donald, November 23, 2018, City Journal)

Opposition to the Kavanaugh nomination was based on the principle that self-professed "survivors" must be believed and that accused males must be condemned, regardless of the paucity of evidence against them. That principle, already ubiquitous on college campuses, got an assist from the federal government in 2011, when the Obama administration released a so-called guidance (an informal federal directive of murky legal status) on college rape proceedings. The guidance strongly discouraged cross-examination of the accuser and required schools to use the lowest possible standard of proof for finding a defendant guilty of sexual assault. It promulgated a broad definition of actionable sexual harassment--"unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature"--that ignored relevant Supreme Court precedent and that would extend to an unwanted request for a date. Since 2011, due-process deficiencies in campus-rape proceedings have become ever more widespread. Colleges routinely deny defendants the opportunity to review all the evidence, fail to provide an impartial decision-maker, and ignore the presumption of innocence. The accused is regularly forbidden the assistance of counsel. In 2014, a Title IX officer at Washington and Lee University issued a lugubrious warning to a male student--"a lawyer can't help you here"--before expelling him for sexual assault.

The proposed Education Department regulation tries to end these abuses. Ironically, in an administration regularly charged with ignoring the law, the DOE has carefully followed the legal framework for promulgating new federal rules. The 2011 Obama guidance was issued as a fait accompli; Donald Trump's DOE, by contrast, is giving the public the opportunity to comment on the proposed rule before it becomes final.

And the feminist establishment is responding as it does to any challenge to its ideological hegemony: with an attack of the vapors. The manager of Know Your IX, an advocacy group, first heard about the new regulation in a grocery store and sank to the ground in shock, she said. How her fellow shoppers viewed this Victorian swoon is unknown, but it recalls the flight of MIT biology professor Nancy Hopkins when Harvard's then-president Larry Summers was discussing the unequal sex distribution of high-end math skills. Hopkins would have thrown up had she stayed in the room, she later explained. NARAL, the abortion-rights group, tweeted that the new campus-rape tribunal rule was "absolutely sickening."

It is the extension of due-process rights to males accused of sexual assault that sickens the activists. In their view of justice, due process is zero-sum: if a male receives procedural rights, the female accuser must by definition lose hers. "These changes are designed to flip Title IX on its head and give rights to accused students when Title IX was supposed to be protecting those experiencing sexual discrimination," a senior staff attorney with SurvJustice told the Chronicle of Higher Education. 

Ideologues already know the only verdict they'll accept.

Posted by at November 24, 2018 7:31 AM