On May 14, 2020, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit indirectly attacking the civil liberties of students accused of sexual assault on behalf of four organizations: Know Your IX, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates Inc., Girls for Gender Equity, and Stop Sexual Assault in Schools.
Of the groups, only Know Your IX has played the most prominent role in the debate about due process and campus sexual assault, and how courts and schools should balance the important interests and rights on both sides of the debate.
The lawsuit filed by the ACLU has received a lot of criticism, in particular, because it says that accused students be found guilty even if the evidence of innocence is almost as strong as the evidence of guilt. The lawsuit also demands a more sweeping definition of sexual harassment than the one prescribed in the regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
Know Your IX was co-founded by Amherst graduate Dana Bolger and Yale graduate Alexandra Brodsky, who were inspired to start the organization after claiming that their alma maters had mishandled their own claims of sexual assault on campus. Bolger's and Brodsky's organization has taken some of the most aggressive stances on the campus sexual assault issue, even arguing that Title IX regulations—which have led to widespread objections that due process rights for the accused were being trampled—were actually biased against accusers.
In the years since Title IX was expanded under President Obama, public awareness has continually grown that the approach to campus sexual assault and harassment had gone too far. But even after nearly 600 lawsuits from accused students have been filed, with more than 170 favorable rulings for people who were accused under Title IX and more than 100 pre-decision settlements, Know Your IX has persisted in calling for fewer rights for the accused.
In a comment submitted to the Department of Education's Kenneth L. Marcus, the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Know Your IX argued against using the clear and convincing standard. This is a standard that many due process advocates believe is a critical part of the Title IX process to preserve the rights of the accused. But in Know Your IX's comment to Marcus, they suggested that the harm done to someone wrongly accused of sexual assault is no greater than the harm done to a rape victim whose assailant is wrongly found not guilty.
Know Your IX has, time and again, shown itself to be not as concerned with even-handed justice as with tilting the scales toward accusers. The ACLU, on the other hand, is an organization that was founded to protect the rights of all, even the accused. The implication in the ACLU agreeing to file the lawsuit with Know Your IX is that the ACLU shares Know Your IX's priorities.
If you have been accused of a Title IX violation, you need a lawyer who understands Title IX defense. Call the Lento Law Firm today to schedule your consultation, 888-535-3686.