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Lawsuit Against DeVos, Title IX Rules Is Dismissed

October 22, 2020
 
 

A judge for the United States District Court for the District of Maryland dismissed a lawsuit on Tuesday that was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of organizations that advocate for survivors of sexual assault and challenged the new federal rules for how colleges handle sexual misconduct allegations. The organizations do not have standing under the U.S. Constitution to sue, the court concluded.

The lawsuit against U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos claimed that the Department of Education’s regulations implemented in August under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the law prohibiting sex discrimination at federally funded institutions, were themselves discriminatory against students who report sexual assault or harassment. It also claimed the department overstepped its authority in developing the regulations, which ultimately would harm the organizations that defend the rights of survivors, such as Know Your IX and Stop Sexual Assault in Schools.

However, Richard Bennett, the U.S. district judge in Maryland who dismissed the case, wrote in an opinion that the organizations failed to prove that they as entities would be harmed by the new regulations. Know Your IX, for example, argued that the regulations run counter to their objectives and require the group to divert resources into training campus-based activists on the significant changes to how Title IX applied to colleges, but could not provide evidence of a spike in training requests or additional spending, Bennett wrote.

In a statement, Sage Carson, manager of Know Your IX, said the organization was “disappointed to learn that the court has granted the Trump administration’s request to deny survivors our day in court.”

“We disagree with this decision and are working with counsel to discuss the best next steps -- but want to make it clear that this is not a ruling on the legality of the rule,” Carson said. “Betsy DeVos’ Title IX rule is still clearly biased against student survivors and will wrongly deny students access to their right to an education free from violence.”

There are still three ongoing lawsuits against the Department of Education and DeVos over the new regulations in other district courts.

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