The Corner

Politics & Policy

Dems Want to Put Obama’s Title IX Enforcer Back in Charge

Catherine Lhamon in MSNBC in 2018. (MSNBC/via YouTube)

During the Obama administration, Title IX enforcement was vastly expanded and procedures for determining guilt so distorted that many courts and legal scholars objected to them. The main architect of those policies was Catherine Lhamon. When Obama left office, he appointed her to chair the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

With the Dems ruling Washington again, Biden has nominated Lhamon for her old post in the Department of Education. That nomination has drawn a lot of fire from people who dislike her approach to “civil rights.” In today’s Martin Center piece, professor KC Johnson, so well known for his work in ferreting out the truth about the Duke lacrosse case, writes about Lhamon and the prospects that she will be confirmed.

Will we go back to the kangaroo courts for Title IX? Johnson points out that the “vehement opposition” to Lhamon has made it possible that we won’t. He writes, “The debate over the Lhamon nomination also has, perhaps unintentionally, revealed a significant shift in the media and legal culture surrounding Title IX and campus sexual assault.”

Back when she was in power, the media coverage was utterly fawning, as papers giddily supported her claims that our campuses were awash in “rape culture.” Now, however, we are at least getting some balance.

Moreover, quite a few courts have ruled against the unfair procedures Lhamon demanded that colleges use in Title IX cases.

After Secretary Betsy DeVos made significant changes in Title IX policy, Lhamon ranted against them in hysterics, but didn’t make any serious arguments.

Lhamon’s supporters have resorted to far-fetched claims in hopes of salvaging her nomination. It’s now up to Senator Chuck Schumer to push it forward or give up (and then find someone else who will be hardly different, but with less of a record).

Johnson concludes, “That even Lhamon’s advocates are trying to label her a due process advocate shows that we’ve moved beyond the Obama era in terms of public relations, and that outright indifference to the rights of accused students no longer is acceptable. But there’s no reason to believe that, if confirmed, Lhamon will adopt policies any different from her first, disastrous stint at OCR.”

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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