Tell the Senate: Confirm Judges Committed to Expanding Civil Rights
Extremist judges will not stop endangering the lives of pregnant people or people who may become pregnant—overturning Roe v. Wade, attacking medication abortion, threatening the future of IVF, and now pregnancy accommodations. There are 56 federal judicial vacancies and 30 nominations before the Senate right now.
Tell the Senate to commit to confirming all federal nominees who will defend the rights and well-being of pregnant and postpartum workers, people who can get pregnant, and all women!
Amy Coney Barrett Threatens a Lifetime of Harm to Sexual Assault Survivors
There is no question that Amy Coney Barrett would be a dangerous, “fundamentally cruel” addition to the Supreme Court. Her past decisions as a judge on the Seventh Circuit have already eviscerated protections for many vulnerable communities.If she is confirmed,she would have even more power to cause a lifetime of harmnationwide—including to student survivors of sexual assault. In 2019, Barrett wrote an opinion that makes it easier for named harassers and rapists to sue their schools and harder for schools to hold students accountable for sexual misconduct. John Doe, the plaintiff inDoe v. Purdue University,was suspended by his college and expelled from the Navy ROTC after histhen-girlfriendreported that hehad sexually assaulted hertwice.Doe then sued Purdue, claiming that Purdue violated his due processand Title IX rights. For his Title IX claim, Doe argued thatPurdue was motivated by anti-male bias—even though there was no evidence that Purduedisciplined him specifically because of his sex.The trial judge dismissed Doe’s claims, but when he appealed the decision to the Seventh Circuit, Barrett reversed and held he could move forward with his case. Barrett’s decision to side with Doe is dangerous for at least two key reasons: First, Barrett createda new Title IX standard that makes it easier for men who are disciplinedfor sexual misconduct to claim they are actually thevictimsof sex discrimination. Under Barrett’s standard, men punished for sexual assault could claim sex discrimination simply because there was a “plausible inference” that their schools were motivated by anti-male bias.Barrett indicated that the Department of Education’s2011 Title IX guidance,which set out schools’ obligations to treat sexual harassment seriously, and the Department’s investigations of Purdue for Title IX compliance,suggested such anti-male bias. She reached this conclusion even though many of the unfair procedures that Doe alleged occurred in Purdue’s investigation wereprohibitedby the 2011 guidance, which was enforced by theObama administration to alsoprotect respondents’ Title IX rights. In contrast to Barrett’s new “plausible inference” standard, sexual assault survivorsare typically held to a much higher standard and required to allege facts showing that their schools treated them with “deliberate indifference”—that is, that their schools were clearly unreasonable in responding to the harassment they experienced—in order to bring a Title IX lawsuit.In effect, Barrett’s decisionturns Title IX into a law that protects sexual harassers and rapists far more than their victims. Second, Barrett’s decision could have devastating consequences for civil rights enforcement at large.In her view,the Department of Education’s effortsto protect survivorsof sexual assault—both generally across the country and specifically at Purdue—supported Doe’s claim that Purdue had discriminated against him as a man.Thatlogic is bewildering.It ignores the reality that people of all genders commit and are victims of sexual violence. Moreover, it disingenuously labels efforts to stop discrimination against victims of harm as suggestiveof discrimination against perpetrators of harm. This reasoning could alsoundermine enforcement of other civil rights laws—for example, to allow cops fired for anti-Black racism to sue their police departments for so-called anti-white bias. In addition to these troubling consequences, the facts in Doe v. Purdue are more complex than John Doe suggested in his complaint, as is often the situation in cases filed by named harassers.Ina court filing from earlier this year, Purdueexplained that its investigation revealed that Doeappeared to admit to andapologize to his ex-girlfriend for the sexual assaults. In response to her texting him“I literally can’t trust you if you don’t respect my boundaries,” he replied “[w]e already went over this several times. I can[‘]t even apologize anymore because you get angry at me for it. . . . I[’]m sorry. I can[’]t change what I did, as much as [I] want to. I violated you and never should have.” Lawsuits like Doe’s fuel the dangerous misconception that “false accusations” are common and obscure the reality that campus sexual assault is far too common and remains inadequately addressed. Far too much is at stake to allow Barrett’s nomination to move forward.The Supreme Court is likely to hear cases in the coming months or years that will determine whether schools can take meaningful action to address and prevent sexual harassment.Students disciplined for sexual misconducthave already filed over 600 lawsuits against their schools,and as they become more and more emboldened by the Trump administration’s weakening of Title IX protections, some of these cases may reach the Supreme Court. Studentvictimshave also requested the Court’s review in cases that would decidewhether students must be harassed or assaulted againafter they reach out to their school for help in order to file a Title IX lawsuit, and whetherstudents who are expelled because they rejected their professor’s overtures have no recourse under Title IX. We cannot allowthe Trump administration to turn back the clock even further on Title IX. It would be an absolutedisgrace to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacyto replace her with someone who would perversely misuseanti–sexdiscriminationlawsandeviscerate their core purpose.