A letter from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights dictating how American colleges and universities must respond to allegation of sexual violence has garnered harsh criticism from a number of law professors because, they say, it is grossly unconstitutional.
The professors, from law schools at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Harvard University and George Washington University, charge that the letter’s directives force public and private schools across the country to adopt policies that threaten to dispossess students of basic, fundamental due process rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.
The very lengthy, 46-page letter entitled “Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence” depends very heavily — at times exclusively — on Title IX, a comprehensive 1972 federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.
If school officials fail to follow the directives of the unelected Office for Civil Rights federal bureaucrats who wrote the letter, the schools risk severe financial sanctions.
Under the Obama administration, the Office for Civil Rights “has sacrificed the basic safeguards of the lawmaking process,” wrote 16 University of Pennsylvania Law School professors, according to The Washington Post.
Take, for example, the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution, which guarantees everyone in America the right to a “public trial,” the right “to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation” and the right “to be confronted with the witnesses.”
The letter from the Obama administration’s Office for Civil Rights guarantees exactly none of these things and, in fact, directs school officials to avoid providing these basic rights to students accused of sexual violence.
The letter instructs school officials to allow students to make sex-crime allegations while keeping the student against whom the allegations are made totally in the dark about who has made the charge.
Moreover, charges must be kept secret.
“[I]nformation should only be shared with individuals who are responsible for handling the school’s response to incidents of sexual violence,” the letter instructs.
“In instances affecting many students, an alleged perpetrator can be put on notice of allegations of harassing behavior and be counseled appropriately without revealing, even indirectly, the identity of the student complainant.”
The Office for Civil Rights also clearly and explicitly states that a person charged with a sex crime on an American college campus is not entitled to any hearing.
“The investigation may include a hearing to determine whether the conduct occurred, but Title IX does not necessarily require a hearing,” the letter startlingly states.
The 16 Penn law professors observe that this edict is a serious violation of constitutional norms.
“[A] student who denies the charges is entitled to a fair hearing before being subjected to serious, life-changing sanctions,” the professors explain. “These cases are likely to involve highly disputed facts, and the ‘he said/she said’ conflict is often complicated by the effects of alcohol and drugs.” (RELATED: Professor At Obama’s First College Brands College Student Rapist Because He Got Good Grades, Played Sports And Was ‘From A Good Family’)
“Cross-examination has long been considered as perhaps the most important procedure in reaching a fair and reliable determination of disputed facts,” the profs also note.