The trial of the summer is taking place in a Colorado federal court. Taylor Swift is facing off against a Denver radio personality named David Mueller. At issue is a brief encounter in June 2013. Mueller and his girlfriend took a picture with Swift after a concert. Swift said that Mueller groped her by putting his hand on her behind. Her security team notified Mueller’s employer of the incident, and they promptly fired him. TMZ obtained a picture of the fateful moment:
Taylor Swift — The 'Sexual Assault' Photo I Wanted to Keep Secret (PHOTO) https://t.co/qT5FRZLo4T
— TMZ (@TMZ) November 12, 2016
At the same time, however, the accused enjoys the full array of due-process rights. He can use a lawyer. He has a right to see the evidence against him, a right to question witnesses, and a right confront his accuser. Oh, and the case goes before an impartial judge and a jury of his peers, not an ideologically stacked tribunal of social-justice warriors. The civil-litigation system corrects all the due-process flaws of campus kangaroo courts while also granting the accuser far more power to seek justice for wrongdoing.
A court-focused campus response to Title IX would be easy enough to construct. When women come forward to report assault, trained employees could inform them of their legal options, connect them with the police (if appropriate), and refer them to lists of lawyers. The university could then separate accuser and accused through no-contact orders throughout the resulting legal process. Then, when the court case is over, the university could take action based on the results — results obtained through the use of full and appropriate due process.
There is no perfect solution. Ideologues have to understand that justice is hard, even under the best of circumstances. There’s simply no way to easily, cheaply, and justly adjudicate sexual-misconduct claims. And there’s certainly no way to painlessly try these cases. It took bravery for Swift to make her claims. But bravery can be contagious, especially when it’s this public. Once you abandon the dangerous quest for legal utopia, you can see the solutions staring you in the face — solutions that have been there all along. Follow Swift’s lead. There is a place for legal disputes: in a court of law.