Jerry Brown Vetoes Obama-Style Title IX Sexual Assault Bill, Citing Due-Process Concerns
Progressive Governor Jerry Brown (D-Calif.) has now officially agreed with Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. On Sunday, he vetoed a bill that would have made the Obama-era Department of Education (DOE) guidance on sexual assault permanent in California. Even better, Brown rejected the bill citing due-process concerns often dismissed by the Left as "propaganda."
"This is not a simple issue. Sexual harassment and sexual violence are serious and complicated matters for colleges to resolve," the governor wrote in a statement on his veto. "On the one side are complainants who come forward to seek justice and protection; on the other side stand accused students, who, guilty or not, must be treated fairly and with the presumption of innocence until the facts speak otherwise."
Brown stood by his affirmative consent law, stipulating clear standards for colleges to adopt on sexual assault. But he acknowledged that "since this law was enacted ... thoughtful legal minds have increasingly questioned whether federal and state actions to prevent and redress sexual harassment and assault — well-intentioned as they are — have also unintentionally resulted in some colleges' failure to uphold due process for accused students."
In a rare statement of wisdom from a progressive governor, Brown wrote, "I am not prepared to codify additional requirements in reaction to a shifting federal landscape, when we haven't yet ascertained the full impact of what we recently enacted."
"We may need more statutory requirements than what this bill contemplates. We may need fewer. Or still yet, we may need simply to fine tune what we have," the governor concluded. Would that all progressive legislators were this humble and circumspect about applying new policy.
Brown's veto does indeed come at a time of shifting federal guidance on this issue. The Obama administration pushed a "rape culture" narrative that one in four women would be sexually assaulted on college campuses and that colleges could not trust police to handle these crimes. This created a perverse system of campus tribunals that put due process rights in jeopardy.
Obama's DOE issued a "Dear Colleague" letter in 2011, and bolstered this policy with another guidance in 2014. These documents reinterpreted Title IX of the Higher Education Act of 1972, turning a ban on sex discrimination into a manifesto for colleges to proceed with extreme prejudice against anyone accused of sexual assault.
Activists and politicians like Hillary Clinton insisted on calling any woman who accused a man of sexual assault a "survivor," rather than a complainant, and men who were falsely accused (and later acquitted) have been branded "rapists" long after their names were cleared.
Trump's Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has championed due process for the accused, however. Her acting assistant secretary at the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), Candice Jackson, rescinded the 2011 and 2014 documents.