Biden Administration Plans to Roll Back Trump-Era Free Speech Protections in Education

  • The administration of President Joe Biden plans to roll back current Title IX regulations, which experts say will roll back protections for both the accuser and the accused in sexual assault cases and threaten free speech in federally funded schools.
  • “Ultimately, it returns Title IX to a standard of guilty until proven innocent,” said Sarah Perry, Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
  • “Any change could put students’ free speech rights at risk and will only exacerbate the problem of self-censorship that has been plaguing our campuses,” said Speech First Executive Director Cherise Trump.

President Joe Biden’s Department of Education (DOE) plans to roll back Title IX due process regulations put in place by former President Donald Trump’s administration, which experts say will roll back protections for both the accuser and the accused. charged in sexual assault cases and will threaten freedom of expression.

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) plans to rewrite the rules outlined in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 that set standards for sexual harassment in federally funded schools. The Biden administration’s changes would roll back the 2020 due process protections that require federal K-12 and higher education schools to investigate violations of Title IX in a fair and impartial manner, including the right to be represented by an attorney. counsel, the presumption of innocence, the ability to cross-examine and present witnesses, experts told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Proponents of the current standards argue that they fixed problems created by former President Barack Obama’s Department of Education; Before the 2020 changes, cases of sexual assault and harassment were only recognized as cases of illegal sex discrimination through regulations that were not legally binding. However, under current standards, school districts, colleges, and universities have a legal obligation to respond to such cases fairly and impartially.

By Trump administration standards, sexual assault cases in federal schools are handled more like “quasi-judicial proceedings,” Sarah Perry, Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told TheDCNF.

“Ultimately, it returns Title IX to a standard of guilty until proven innocent…instead of letting a Title IX investigator determine who was right and who was wrong, in a proceeding of ‘he said, she said,’” Perry said.

A student walks near Royce Hall on the UCLA campus on April 23, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  Half of recent college graduates with bachelor's degrees are reportedly underemployed or out of work.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

A student walks near Royce Hall on the UCLA campus on April 23, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Speech First Executive Director Cherise Trump told TheDCNF that the rule changes will likely be used as weapons against constitutionally protected speech, which could make students subject to “harassment” for their personal or political views.

The current Title IX regulations that were implemented in 2020 are consistent with a Supreme Court precedent known as the Davis Standard, which concluded that “student-on-student bullying must be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it can be said to deprives its victims of access to a school’s educational programs or activities,” Trump explained. (RELATED: Republicans say they have proof the FBI targeted concerned parents, despite Garland’s denials)

“This is a pretty high threshold that protects students from being accused of harassment simply for expressing their opinions and possibly offending someone with their ideas,” Trump said. In response, universities frequently manipulate Title IX language to fit a “broader definition” such as “serious, pervasive, and objectively offensive …” to “serious, pervasive, or objectively offensive,” he explained.

The small wording change allows school administrators to restrict and punish speech that they believe is “offensive,” “unwelcome” or “disruptive” but would not be considered bullying under current Title IX rules, he said.

“Previously, the process for adjudicating serious allegations of campus bullying had been riddled with bias, vagueness, and overreach,” Trump added. “Any change could put students’ free speech rights at risk and will only exacerbate the problem of self-censorship that has been plaguing our campuses.”

A Republican coalition of 15 state attorneys general has raised legal concern over DOE plans to roll back the “landmark” move that codified sexual harassment regulations under Title IX, arguing the previous rules were unworkable and unfair.

“Hundreds of successful lawsuits against schools for denying basic due process and widespread criticism from across the ideological spectrum have emerged from the Obama-era rules. the statement said. “The rules also resulted in a disproportionate number of expulsions and scholarship losses for black male students.”

The Education Department did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.

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