Latest Update July 25, 2019

Groups Detail "Chilling Effects" of Secretary DeVos’s Unlawful Rollback of Title IX Survivor Protections

In our motion for summary judgment, we described the barriers to justice erected by Secretary Betsy DeVos's unlawful rollback of Title IX protections.

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In September 2017, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced a new Title IX policy that removed important protections for survivors of campus sexual assault and imposed new, discriminatory barriers that make it harder for survivors to come forward. Among the harms to survivors, the vast majority of whom are women and girls, the Trump Administration’s policy eliminates a recommended time frame for schools to resolve Title IX reports. It permits schools to allow a student accused of sexual assault to appeal an unfavorable outcome, but denies that right to survivors. It also allows schools to decline to issue interim measures–like moving out of a residence or changing class schedules–to protect the person complaining of sexual assault from further harassment or violence during the investigation of the complaint. We’re suing in partnership with organizations that support survivors.

The Trump Administration’s new Title IX policy was motivated by its discriminatory views about women, particularly survivors of sexual violence. In July 2017, the Department of Education’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson falsely stated that 90 percent of campus sexual assault accusations stem from drunken, consensual encounters that women later regret. While the Department was considering the new Title IX policy, Jackson and other senior officials solicited input and were in regular contact with men’s rights activists who espouse similar views of sexual assault survivors. It wasn’t until she received public pressure that Secretary DeVos even met with survivors to hear their concerns.

We, along with our co-counsel—National Center for Youth Law, the National Women’s Law Center, and Equal Rights Advocates—filed suit challenging the policy on behalf of SurvJustice, Equal Rights Advocates, and Victim Rights Law Center. The lawsuit alleges that the policy violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection, which prohibits the government from enacting laws and policies that discriminate on the basis of sex. We are asking the Court to set aside the discriminatory policy and reinstate critical protections for student survivors of sexual violence.

 

January 25, 2018

We filed suit, alleging that the Department of Education’s Title IX policy violates the Administrative Procedure Act, the Constitution, and was ultra vires.

February 21, 2018

We filed our first amended complaint to add additional factual allegations about the harmful effects of the Title IX policy.

May 2, 2018

The Government moved to dismiss our amended complaint.

The government’s motion presented several threshold challenges but did not attempt to defend the Title IX policy on its merits.

June 8, 2018

We opposed the government’s motion.

Our opposition brief explained, at length, how the new Title IX policy has harmed survivors of sexual violence and the organizations that support them, including our clients.

July 19, 2018

We appeared in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California for oral arguments regarding the government’s motion to dismiss the case.

October 1, 2018

The Court ruled on the government’s motion to dismiss.

While the Court granted the government’s motion to dismiss our Administrative Procedure Act claim on the ground that there was no final agency action, it invited us to revise our complaint and return to court to pursue our equal protection claim against the Administration’s discriminatory policy.

October 31, 2018

We filed our second amended complaint.

Our second amended complaint includes additional allegations regarding the extent to which the Title IX policy was motivated by sexist stereotypes about survivors of sexual violence. Among other things, records uncovered through one of our FOIA lawsuits revealed that senior Department of Education decisionmakers solicited views from extreme men’s rights activists, including Gordon E. Finley, who has falsely said that 41 to 62 percent of reported rapes and other sexual abuse are false accusations.

March 29, 2019

The Court reconsidered its earlier dismissal of our claims under the Administrative Procedure Act and allowed our case to proceed to the merits.

April 18, 2019

We filed our third amended complaint.

This filing details how DeVos violated the Administrative Procedure Act to eliminate protections that prevent a discriminatory educational environment.

July 25, 2019

We filed our motion for summary judgment.

This filing detailed the “chilling effects” of DeVos’ unlawful rollback, showing how it deters survivors from coming forward and delays investigations of sexual violence claims.

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Robin Thurston

Senior Counsel

Challenging Executive Branch illegality.

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Karianne Jones

Counsel

Litigating cases against the Executive Branch on issues including veterans’ rights, travelers’ rights, and immigration.

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Allison Hunn

Legal Analyst

Focusing on education, the environment, energy, agriculture, housing, and transportation.

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