A federal judge refused a multi-state effort to strike down Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ new Title IX rule, clearing the path for the policy to take effect Friday.
A circuit court judge in the District of Columbia released an order Wednesday denying a request to stop the new rule and to block it as legal action continues. Attorneys general in 17 states and the District of Columbia have brought the lawsuit challenging DeVos’ policy change, which mandates how colleges and K-12 schools must respond to reports of sexual misconduct.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has vowed to put a “quick end” to the controversial rule if he becomes the next president.
District of Columbia Circuit Court Judge Carl John Nichols wrote that, while state leaders have raised “serious arguments” about the rule, “they have not established a likelihood of success on their claims, nor have they established that they are likely to suffer substantial irreparable harm pending further litigation.”
The Title IX rule change will mark DeVos’ legacy as head of the Education Department. The secretary has said the rule officially codifies protections to hold schools accountable by ensuring survivors are not brushed aside and the accused are not prematurely assumed guilty.
DeVos touted the ruling Wednesday as a victory for students and said it reaffirms “basic American principles of fairness and due process.”
“With yet another failed attempt to block our historic Title IX Rule, we can now look forward to it taking effect this Friday, requiring schools to act in meaningful ways to support survivors of sexual misconduct without sacrificing important safeguards to protect free speech and provide all students with a transparent, reliable process,” DeVos said in a statement.
Key context: The complaint was led by the attorneys general of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California. Top state lawyers also joined the suit in representing Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
The state lawyers want the rule to be declared unlawful and nixed.
The Wednesday decision follows another judge’s denial Sunday of a motion to block the rule from taking effect in New York while legal action continues. Southern District of New York Judge John G. Koeltl said state officials failed to show they are likely to win in their argument that the Trump administration acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” when it finalized its rule.
Education groups, Democratic lawmakers and state attorneys general had urged DeVos to delay finalizing the regulation until the coronavirus pandemic is over, arguing that school resources are spread especially thin right now.
Four lawsuits charge that the Education Department violated the law with its new rule by acting beyond its authority, and that the rule is arbitrary and capricious.
What’s next: At least four lawsuits on the policy are still pending as the Title IX rule is set to take effect Friday.