Women's rights group sues Education Dept over DeVos' Title IX actions

Women's rights group sues Education Dept over DeVos' Title IX actions

A women’s rights group is suing the Department of Education over Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosOvernight Defense: Fallout from tense NATO summit | Senators push to block ZTE deal in defense bill | Blackwater founder makes new pitch for mercenaries to run Afghan war Blackwater founder makes new pitch for mercenaries to take over Afghan war Warren: Trump should have fired Pruitt ‘28 scandals ago’ MORE’s new rules on investigating campus sexual assault cases.

The Los Angeles-based group Equal Means Equal and three individual women from Massachusetts filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that DeVos is violating state and federal law by rescinding Obama-era Title IX rules, NBC News reported.

Last month, DeVos introduced an interim guidance on how college campuses should handle complaints of sexual assault, rolling back the previous rule put in place by former President Obama that required schools to adopt a minimal standard of proof when disciplining guilty students.

The temporary guidance is meant to serve as a placeholder while the agency crafts news guidance with a new standard through a rulemaking process that involves public notice and comment.

Wendy Murphy, the Boston lawyer who filed the lawsuit, said that DeVos’s actions are “unconscionable” and “unconstitutional.”

“Ironically, we have the secretary of Education issuing discriminatory rules that apply only to violence against women and subject only victims of sex-based harm to second-class treatment on college campuses," Murphy told reporters outside the Boston federal courthouse. "That is unconscionable, that is unacceptable, and it is unconstitutional." 

The lawsuit alleges that DeVos’s interim guidelines violate Title IX laws, which forbid sex-based discrimination in education, in nine different ways.

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The suit says that the guidelines let schools off the hook by allowing them to apply a tougher standard of evidence for sex-related abuses than for race or nationality-related ones. The three women, who are not named in the suit, say DeVos’s rules have resulted in officials mishandling ongoing assault cases they have with their respective universities.

This case will be handled by the U.S. District Court in Boston, but the director of the women’s rights group Equal Means Equal said that it won’t be the last case of its kind.

"We intend to pursue these types of cases in every jurisdiction in this country as part of our declared commitment to secure full equality for all American women and girls," she said.

DeVos is also facing a lawsuit from a group of state attorneys general for rescinding Obama-era regulations that were intended to stop for-profit colleges from taking advantage of students, and one for rescinding student loan regulations.