A Wisconsin college is trying to get a court to dismiss a male student's federal lawsuit claiming the school violated his due process and equal protection rights during a Title IX case. The arguments put forward in the case, even at this early juncture, take us deep into some thorny and difficult due process concepts.
UW Oshkosh Files Motion to Dismiss Title IX Due Process Appeal
The University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh (UWO) is being sued by a male student who had been accused of raping a female student at the school.
The facts of the underlying case are par for the course in a Title IX case involving sexual misconduct between a male and a female student: Apparently, the female student invited the male to a sorority party, and the two had sex afterwards. The male says it was consensual. The female later alleged that it was not.
A Title IX investigation was triggered by the incident. The male student has claimed that the investigation, which apparently has not wrapped up, yet, has already violated his due process rights and his equal protection rights, both of which are guaranteed to him under the 14th Amendment.
The alleged sexual misconduct happened on March 16, 2019, with the girl reporting it to the school's Title IX office in mid-May. The boy files the federal lawsuit on September 11, and the school has filed its motion to dismiss on October 4.
School: No Property Rights Violated
A big part of the school's motion to dismiss the claim is that there was no due process violation because the male student had no property right that was being infringed by the Title IX investigation.
The text of the 14th Amendment says that states cannot “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” While there is little question about the “life” part, it does beg the question: What is “liberty” or “property”?
U.S. courts, including the Supreme Court, have grappled with this idea for decades, taking increasingly expansive notions of the two, particularly the notion of property. At this point, people can have a “property interest” in something almost any time they have signed a contract that entitles them to something.
In this case, that alleged property interest is the male student's education at UWO. He argues that he has a property interest in his educational rights because he signed an agreement with the school that entitles him to continued enrollment. While the school can potentially revoke that entitlement, it has to take sufficient steps to satisfy his due process rights guaranteed to him under the 14th Amendment, first.
Title IX Defense Lawyer Joseph D. Lento
The existence and the limits to the due process rights guaranteed by the 14th Amendment are important, and also very complicated. If you have been accused of sexual misconduct or sexual assault on campus, though, they are often your best line of defense if your school is conducting a Title IX investigation against you.