In late June, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued an opinion authored by Judge Amy Coney Barrett holding that a student accused of sexual assault has plead sufficient facts to bring claims under both the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title IX for alleged discriminatory treatment he received from Purdue University’s disciplinary proceedings. The ruling by the all-female panel is significant because it establishes a precedent that can be used in the future to hold college administrators accountable for the lack of due process that runs rampant in higher education disciplinary proceedings.
This ruling joins dozens of other courts who have called for increased scrutiny of colleges’ Obama-era disciplinary procedures. The Obama Administration’s “Dear Colleague Letter” mandated a streamlined process for sexual-misconduct complaints which “discouraged basic elements of due process.”
David French argues in the National Review that Obama-era policies still currently in place on college campuses hurt the falsely accused, but more importantly, hurt innocent victims of sexual assault:
Until those flawed proceedings are eradicated once and for all, we will see all too many innocent students face punishment for alleged crimes that they did not commit. At the same time, as flawed adjudications are overturned en masse, guilty students will be relieved of responsibility for their terrible misdeeds. We’ll see more women face the trauma of relitigating the worst day of their lives through absolutely no fault of their own.
The Seventh Circuit’s ruling is a step in the right to direction to protect the rights of accused students while, most importantly, ensuring that perpetrators of sexual assault on college campuses will be held accountable for their actions.