Due Process Is a Right, Not a Privilege

Due Process Is a Right, Not a Privilege
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks during CPAC 2018 in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 22, 2018. In a recent press release, DeVos proposed new rules regarding how alleged sexual assaults on college campuses are handled. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Brian Cates

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos used a Nov. 16 press release to unveil a new draft rule proposal for the Department of Education to address a chaotic situation that has developed at universities across the nation.

The press release, with links to the proposal, can be seen on the official Department of Education website and is titled “Proposed Title IX Rule Provides Clarity for Schools, Support for Survivors, and Due Process Rights for All.” By announcing the proposed rule change, DeVos hopes to get feedback and constructive criticism before its implementation.

Due process—fair treatment through the normal judicial system—is a basic American civil right granted by the U.S. Constitution to all citizens.

In recent years, many colleges in the United States have adopted new policies for handling sexual-assault allegations. Instead of letting law enforcement handle cases of alleged sexual assault/harassment, college administrators were encouraged to set up their own on-campus investigative systems and pronounce judgment on the cases all by themselves.

That’s right. Let that sink in for a minute. Colleges have been setting up their own internal “court” systems to hear these “he said, she said” cases—except, with the way the hearings were set up, the “he said” part was often just skipped over completely.

Had the universities shown these newly created “campus courts” resulted in fair and neutral rulings between the students appearing before them, this wouldn’t be such an urgent issue.

But that’s been far from the case. These policies had the practical result of stripping due-process rights from accused students and staff. And the more a person digs into how that situation came about, the more troubling it gets.

Politicized Outcomes

It turns out these U.S. universities have been setting up internal court systems to try students for sexual-related offenses right on campus, because radical feminists and political activists have been agitating for these kinds of policies. That means this entire recent shift in policy at U.S. colleges was fostered to drive certain preordained politicized outcomes from the start.

The college hookup and drinking cultures made the institution of these new sexual misconduct rules a disaster waiting to happen, and it didn’t take long for examples of obvious miscarriages of justice to occur. Drunken students having sex and regretting it later has long been a part of college life. But in the present campus atmosphere, there are many willing to criminalize such behavior in order to make politically motivated examples out of some students.

Some examples from the past few years of students being expelled without due process include two reported by FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education): “Student Found Guilty of Sexual Assault After Incapacitation Statute Is Misapplied” at Occidental College; and “Student Punished for Alleged Sexual Assault Cleared by University of North Dakota; Accuser Still Wanted for Lying to Police.”
Another, reported by The Federalist, involved an entire fraternity at the University of Virginia getting expelled for a sexual assault that never happened.

Whatever the good intentions might have been, what practically resulted was a system in which accused male students weren’t allowed to face their accuser, and they and their representatives weren’t allowed to cross-examine the accuser, or even see evidence, if any, that was being presented against them.

During the eight years of the Obama administration, then-Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appeared to be asleep at the wheel as one major university after another installed what essentially were on-campus kangaroo courts, in order to hold politically motivated show trials.

It’s actually an incredible statement as to just how bad things have gotten on university campuses that DeVos actually has to take this step and announce that students can’t have their rights to due process stripped away because college administrators decree that it shall be so.

Media Response

Of great interest has been the mainstream media’s reaction to the announcement of this proposal.
In many quarters of what I like to affectionately refer to as “The DNC Media Complex” (a term I learned from the late, great Andrew Breitbart), DeVos’s proposed rule change is being discussed as if it’s the most controversial thing ever.
Here’s just one such example of a media outlet covering DeVos’s proposal as if it’s like the return of the Spanish Inquisition: “Betsy DeVos Just Proposed Rules That Would Make Life Harder for Campus Sexual Assault Survivors,” the Mother Jones headline stated. That article has this exciting tagline from former Vice President Joe Biden: “We must speak up and make clear that we will not allow this Administration to take us backwards.”
Not to be outdone, here was NBC News’s headline that day: “DeVos Proposals for Campus Sexual Misconduct Rules Are ‘Worse Than We Thought,’ Victims Advocates Say.” The tagline for that article reads: “It will return schools to a time where rape, assault, and harassment were swept under the rug.”
Note the language used here: “take us backwards” and “return schools to a time.” This is the usual leftist ploy of pretending this particular battle in the culture war was won by their side long ago: “We won, you lost, too late, suckers; why is anybody even still talking about this? Just move on already!”

To hear radical leftist activists on university campuses tell it, this “due process for accused male students” issue had just been decided. For all time.

And then along comes this insufferable Betsy DeVos! Who does she think she is?!

And now as due-process rights are returned to U.S. college campuses, where they’ve been under a sustained assault for the past decade, once again the American left is found stridently objecting. This is very revealing.

It’s very telling that in recent years, the American left has dropped its mask and shown the world its true naked face in declaring war on the entire concept of due process for all. The most recent example of this was the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The left is making it very clear they most certainly don’t believe in due process for their political opposition.

When your opponent shows you their true nature, believe them.

Brian Cates is a political pundit and writer based in South Texas and the author of “Nobody Asked For My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!” He can be reached on Twitter at @drawandstrike.
Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.