The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit’s opinion, in a lawsuit against the University of Michigan, has the potential to reshape the notion of due process for campus sexual assault cases, at least for institutions in the four Midwestern states that comprise the Sixth Circuit, experts say.
Also looming is the Trump administration’s imminent release of draft regulations around Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal gender antidiscrimination law barring sexual misconduct on college campuses.
The appeals court decision would seem to match the direction of the U.S. Department of Education, which under new draft rules wants to mandate cross-examination. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos last year rescinded Obama-era guidance on Title IX, declaring it had unfairly slanted proceedings against accused students.
A student accused of sexual assault at the University of Michigan, who had been expelled, had improperly been unable to challenge the narrative and findings against him, the circuit court ruled Friday. He sued the institution, but his lawsuit was dismissed by the lower court.
Michigan, as many universities around the country do, relies on a “single-investigator” model, in which an official interviews the two parties, and potentially other witnesses, and collects evidence before deciding whether a violation occurred. Neither side has the chance to pose questions to the other...