Federal court denies New York’s effort to block new Title IX regulations

August 10, 2020

NEW YORK, Aug. 10, 2020 — An effort from the New York State attorney general’s office to prevent college students from receiving new protections for free speech and due process in Title IX proceedings has run aground in federal court.

On Sunday, District Judge John Koeltl issued an order denying a motion by the state, joined by the New York City school board, for a preliminary injunction that would prevent new Title IX regulations from the U.S. Department of Education from taking effect as scheduled on Friday. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case urging this result on July 17. 

“We are gratified by this ruling, which means college students are one step closer to having their rights respected in Title IX hearings,” said FIRE Executive Director Robert Shibley. “However, opponents have brought three more lawsuits against these vital new rules, so student rights are not yet out of the woods.” 

In his ruling, Koeltl wrote that the State of New York “failed to show that they will likely prevail on their argument that the DOE acted ‘arbitrarily and capriciously’ or otherwise in violation of law when it promulgated the Rule,” and that they were unlikely to succeed on the merits of their claims. He denied their motion for a preliminary injunction that would prevent the rule from taking effect, as well as their request that the effective date of the rule be stayed.

While the ruling means that this court will not prevent the new Title IX regulations from taking effect on Friday, that does not mean the case is over. New York State may appeal this denial of a preliminary injunction. But, even if it does not, litigation over the regulations themselves will continue. Further, Koeltl had previously denied FIRE’s motion to “intervene” and become a party in the case — a ruling FIRE appealed to the Second Circuit. 

“Opponents of the Title IX regulations and their vital protections for students — such as the right to face one’s accuser, impartial campus judges and juries, an explicit statement that students are innocent until proven guilty, and a Supreme Court-compliant definition of sexual harassment — have pulled out all the stops, filing federal cases in four different jurisdictions in an attempt to find a judge who will agree with them,” said FIRE’s Shibley. “While they may yet succeed, this ruling is a substantial setback to defenders of the disgraceful status quo on campus.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and sustaining the individual rights of students and faculty members at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, legal equality, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience — the essential qualities of liberty.

CONTACT:

Daniel Burnett, Assistant Director of Communications, FIRE: 215-717-3473; media@thefire.org 


Cases:  U.S. Department of Education enacts new Title IX regulations requiring procedural safeguards in campus disciplinary hearings, adopts Supreme Court sexual harassment definition