AG Wilson one of 15 state AGs urging federal court to defend free speech and due process for students

(COLUMBIA, S.C.)  –  July 16, 2020 – South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson today joined a 15-state legal brief filed with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, urging the court to allow the Department of Education to reaffirm Title IX’s commitment to protecting students from actual harassment while respecting free speech and fair process. The Department of Education’s “Final Rule” bolsters the anti-discrimination purposes of Title IX without infringing free speech or due process rights.

“We think that some colleges and the U.S. Department of Education have been so intent on getting rid of anything offensive from campus that they’ve trampled on the rights of students to free speech and due process,” Attorney General Wilson said. “Schools don’t have to make a choice between fighting sexual harassment and protecting constitutional rights; we think they can do both.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton led the 15-state effort and said, “Academic institutions cannot deprive students of their constitutional rights to free speech, due process, or fair trial. The Final Rule provides robust protection for individual rights where previous regulations and guidance failed. The Supreme Court has long recognized that students subject to disciplinary proceedings are entitled to due process, as is every American citizen.”

Without safeguards, academic institutions can and have eschewed due process and imposed life-altering consequences on students without affording them the opportunity to defend themselves. The vast majority of colleges and universities currently deny students the right to present evidence or cross-examine witnesses, and less than half require that fact-finders be impartial during investigations.

Read a copy of the amicus brief here.

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