Statement: Nomination of Catherine Lhamon a return to ‘old, failed policies’

May 13, 2021

The White House announced today that President Biden will nominate Catherine Lhamon to serve as the Department of Education’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights — the same position from which she oversaw efforts to undermine the due process rights of students accused of sexual misconduct during the Obama administration. 

Under Lhamon’s leadership, the Office for Civil Rights enforced guidance that gutted due process protections and violated the First Amendment. Lhamon used that guidance to pressure institutions to restrict constitutionally protected speech and disregard basic procedural protections in campus disciplinary hearings. 

By putting forward Lhamon for this crucial role, President Biden has signaled that he would rather colleges go back to old, failed policies — policies that have earned rebukes from dozens and dozens of courts to date — than pursue Title IX policies that take the rights of all students into account.

The United States Senate should reject Lhamon’s nomination unless she commits under oath to maintaining key procedural protections in campus Title IX proceedings. Among these are the rights to a live hearing to contest charges, to an express presumption of innocence, to meaningful cross-examination, and to access to all of the evidence in an institution’s possession, including exculpatory evidence. Without that commitment, it is all but certain that the Department of Education will return to its discredited practice of trampling student rights.


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