Controversies on American college campuses are becoming almost the norm now. And Eric Holder has inserted himself and the Obama White House right into the center of a debate regarding sexual assault on campus.
Sexual assault is no trivial matter and the White House should be commended for its proactive efforts to curb such harmful behavior. But, one of the primary steps U.S. Attorney General Holder has taken to address this issue goes beyond the pale.
In a letter sent to the University of Montana (which was the subject of a recent article on the topic of sexual assault), Justice has required the university to institute a “policy that defines sexual harassment as ‘any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.’”
“Under Holder’s rule, a single instance of conduct that is ‘offensive’ to one individual would constitute a violation of the law, even if that individual’s reaction is totally unreasonable,” John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky write in their book Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department. Failure to enforce such a stringent ruling by the university could result in a loss of federal funding.
“Holder appears to want universities to apply the Queen of Heart’s admonition in Alice in Wonderland to lop off the heads of anyone accused of sexual harassment before there has even been an investigation or hearing to determine whether the accusations are true,” Fund and Spakovsky write.
Legal orthodoxy within the criminal justice system has been that one is innocent-until-proven-guilty. However, such a “lax” approach to addressing alleged instances of sexual assault does not mollify Attorney General Holder who has resorted to a newly concocted doctrine of guilty-unitl-proven-innocent. One does not need to be a prosecutor or criminal defense specialist to understand that such practices are not consistent with the precepts of due process, a hallmark of the American legal system.
Not only is such a procedure likely to result in a hasty investigative process, when it would be ideal for all parties involved in such an incident to prudentially probe the matter so as to come to a substantiated decision. If however, the university is unable to carry out a deliberative, and incremental process, perhaps it would be best to turn the matter over to the local authorities.
Supreme Court rulings on such matters have mandated that for a school to be held liable for a possible sexual transgression, the conduct in question must be “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it can be said to deprive the victims of access to the educational opportunities or benefits provided by the school.” Evidently, Eric Holder does not appear interested in upholding the rulings of the highest court in the land.
Additionally, as Fund and Spakovsky indicate, Holder’s “management style” only spells more trouble for colleges and universities. “Holder is the first attorney general in history to be held in contempt by the House of Representatives for his unjustified refusal to turn over documents related to what may be the most reckless law-enforcement operation of the Justice Department ever conducted: Operation Fast and Furious,” Fund and Spakovsky write. “He has launched more investigations and prosecutions of leaks than any prior attorney general, yet he has studiously ignored high-level ‘friendly leaks’ by White House officials in the Obama administration.”
“Holder has racialized the prosecution of federal discrimination laws and led an unprecedented attack on election-integrity laws, thus making it easier for people to commit voter fraud and facilitating the election of members of his political party. His handling of national-security issues has been dismal and he has filled the career ranks of the Justice Department with political allies, cronies, and Democratic-party donors, in clear violation of civil-service rules. Holder has treated Congress with contempt and has done everything he can to evade its oversight responsibilities by misleading, misinforming, and ignoring members of Congress and its committees. Holder has attacked pro-life protesters, trying to use federal power to restrict their First Amendment right to speak, has prosecuted American companies for engaging in behavior that is routinely done by government officials, and has on numerous occasions ignored his duty to defend the law and to enforce statutes passed by Congress.
“For these reasons and many others, former career lawyer Christopher Coates, who served in the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations, says that in his opinion, ‘Holder is the worst person to hold the position of attorney general since the disgraced John Mitchell, who went to jail as a result of the Watergate scandal.’”