California Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill that would’ve codified Obama-era Title IX guidance on campus sexual assault into state law. The office of the governor released Brown’s letter vetoing Senate Bill 169 on late Sunday.
The Obama Administration in 2011 released the controversial “Dear Colleague” guidance, ordering public universities to create Title IX courts or lose federal funds. The system was ostensibly set up to protect the victims of sexual abuse in response to hysteria over rape culture on campus. However, the ruling produced only kangaroo courts that denied men accused of sexual assault of due process, in cases absent of evidence to support claims against them.
After years of inaction by the Obama Administration, Donald Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is taking strides to undo the damage caused by Title IX with new regulation restoring due process. Under the new regulations, cases of sexual abuse on campus require a higher standard of evidence.
Despite her orders, California Legislature has been keen to pass a law explicitly protecting the Obama-era guidelines, in full defiance of the Trump Administration and Betsy DeVos. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, required universities to adhere to the old Title IX rules as a condition for receiving state funds.
Governor Brown disagreed with the legislation, opting to veto it. “Thoughtful legal minds have increasingly questioned whether federal and state actions to prevent and redress sexual harassment and assault—well-intentioned as they are—have also unintentionally resulted in some colleges’ failure to uphold due process for accused students,” wrote Brown in a letter.
Brown argued that accused students were owed “the presumption of innocence until the facts speak otherwise,” contrary to the culture of #listenandbelieve pushed by advocates of Title IX. He warned that “depriving any student of higher education opportunities should not be done lightly, or out of fear of losing state or federal funding.”
“We have no insight into how many formal investigations result in expulsion, what circumstances lead to expulsion, or whether there is disproportionate impact on race or ethnicity,” the governor said, taking aim at the identity politics revolving around Title IX advocacy.