On April 4, 2022, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) filed an amicus brief with our law firm partner, Hutchinson, Black & Cook, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the case Brown v. Arizona. NWLC led the brief along with 31 additional advocacy organizations, in support of Mackenzie Brown. Brown is a former University of Arizona (UA) student, who seeks to hold her school accountable for the egregious sex-based harassment she suffered by former student Orlando Bradford. Amici are filing in support of Brown’s petition for rehearing.
Brown filed a Title IX lawsuit against UA for its failure to act in the face of Bradford’s known, repeated assaults of two other UA women, which she said resulted in him abusing her at his off-campus apartment. The District Court held UA was not liable under Title IX, stating Brown failed to establish that UA had “control over the context” of the abuse she experienced at Bradford’s off-campus apartment. The Ninth Circuit affirmed.
NWLC’s brief outlines the dangers of allowing schools to ignore sexual assault just because it occurs in off-campus housing, even just steps from the campus. It explains that if schools are permitted to ignore off-campus assault, scores of students will be left without the support they need to preserve access to their education. This would undermine Title IX’s broad mandate to prevent sex discrimination in education. The brief explains why Title IX’s application to off-campus sex-based harassment should instead be a fact-specific inquiry. The brief also explains how an increasing number of students live off campus and so if this ruling is left on the books, it could disincentivize schools from protecting many students who are victimized by sexual violence, foreclosing them from receiving needed civil rights protections under Title IX.
NWLC led this amicus brief in support of Mackenzie Brown and all student survivors.
Learn more about the case in our blog here.