Law Professors Defend Education Dept. on Burden of Proof

August 8, 2016

Ninety law professors on Sunday issued an open letter defending the U.S. Education Department's rules on colleges' obligations under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to respond to allegations of sex assault. Specifically, the letter defends the department telling colleges to use a "preponderance of evidence" standard, and not a "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. The department's use of that standard has attracted criticism and generated a series of open letters from people with varying views on the issue.

The new letter from the law professors says the following on the legal standard: "The preponderance of the evidence standard is the standard that has always been used to adjudicate discrimination claims. As the 2011 Dear Colleague letter makes clear, civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination, such as Title IX, consistently use a preponderance of the evidence standard of proof. Other educational civil rights statutes like Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits race discrimination by educational institutions and is also enforced by OCR, use a preponderance of the evidence standard. So does Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment, including sexual harassment."

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