President Joe Biden recently nominated the former Obama Administration assistant secretary for civil rights Catherine Lhamon to return to her old Department of Education post as de facto Title IX czar. Lhamon's nomination raises significant issues. Will she win Senate consent to return to her old Title IX czar post? What has made her nomination so controversial? And if nominee Lhamon returns as Title IX czar, what will her return mean for students facing Title IX enforcement at the nation's colleges and universities?
A Nomination Battle
Nominee Lhamon hasn't yet won the necessary Senate consent. Instead, her record of controversial actions in her Obama Administration role polarized the ordinarily compliant, Democratic-led Senate. Lhamon's nomination won only a tie 11-11 party-line vote in the Senate's Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Democrats hold only the slimmest control of the full Senate, with Democrat Vice President Harris breaking ties between the evenly divided senators. That even division leaves committees with equal numbers of senators from each party. Hence Lhamon's tie vote in the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Not even Republican fence-sitting Senators Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski, all members of the deadlocked Committee, were willing to cross party lines.
And the Winner Is ...
Time will soon tell whether nominee Lhamon wins her return as Title IX czar, with full Senate consent. Senate Majority Leader Schumer, a Democrat, can discharge Lhamon's nomination from the deadlocked Committee, bringing her nomination to the full Senate. Full Senate consent is frankly probable because of effective Democratic Senate control. If the full chamber deadlocks 50-50, then Vice President Harris will certainly break the tie in nominee Lhamon's favor. That's how Senate politics work. Democrats need only hold their party line, at which they have been quite good on nearly all issues, for nominee Lhamon to return to her former Title IX czar post. But in politics, few things are assured, few things cast in stone. Presidents have at times withdrawn controversial nominations in political trade to win higher priority battles. President Biden might in the future need or want a favorable vote from Republican Senators Romney, Collins, or Murkowski on, say, a Supreme Court nominee. Expect Lhamon to return as Title IX czar, but don't bet the farm on it.
A Controversial Record
Nominee Lhamon undoubtedly faces such resistance because of her controversial record of Obama Administration Title IX enforcement. Lhamon led the Obama Administration's use of informal guidance to reduce or eliminate protective procedures for college students falsely accused of Title IX sexual harassment or violence. Trump Administration Education Secretary Betsy DeVos championed new Title IX regulations that re-balanced both sides' protective rights. For best example, under the DeVos regulations, both accuser and accused may cross-examine witnesses who must appear at the formal hearing.
Yet Lhamon was having none of it. A Wall Street Journal report on Lhamon's recent nomination quotes Lhamon as calling the DeVos measures a return “to the bad old days, that predate my birth, when it was permissible to rape and sexually harass students with impunity.” That's controversial language, especially considering that federal courts had in several cases found due process violations under the Obama guidance while, on the other hand, upheld the rebalanced new DeVos measures. For political junkies, Lhamon's controversial nomination is a bit of a barn burner. But it also has significant policy implications.
If you face Title IX or other sexual misconduct charges, national Title IX defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are ready for your aggressive and effective defense. With the right representation, you can successfully defend and defeat false, unfair, or exaggerated sexual misconduct charges. Keep your school from rushing your proceeding to a false and damaging conclusion. Remember what you have at stake in your education. Call 888-535-3686 to schedule a Lento Law Firm consultation, or use the online service.
Stay tuned for part two of this story.