A big bravo to Governor Jerry Brown of California.
A Democratic stalwart, Governor Brown nevertheless vetoed a bill by the California legislature that would have established as permanent Obama administration guidelines for handling accusations of sexual misconduct on campus.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos formally rescinded the Obama guidelines, but the California legislature sought to save them.
In making the veto, Brown got to the heart of the matter: the guidelines infringe on the accused person's right of due process. The guidance issued by the Obama administration in 2011 set up what amounted to kangaroo courts to deal with sexual accusations on campus.
Reason's Robby Soave zeroes in on this in a thoughtful piece that quotes Brown saying that the accused "must be treated fairly and with the presumption of innocence until the facts speak otherwise."
Soave praises Brown for this "brave stance that makes him an outlier within the Democratic Party, whose leaders have been far more likely to condemn DeVos for trying to tamper with the system."
Here is some of what Brown said:
Thoughtful legal minds have increasingly questioned whether federal and state actions to prevent and redress sexual harassment and assault—well-intentioned as they are—have also unintentionally resulted in some colleges' failure to uphold due process for accused students. Depriving any student of higher education opportunities should not be done lightly, or out of fear of losing state or federal funding.
Given the strong state of our laws already, I am not prepared to codify additional requirements in reaction to a shifting federal landscape, when we haven't yet ascertained the full impact of what we recently enacted. We have no insight into how many formal investigations result in expulsion, what circumstances lead to expulsion, or whether there is disproportionate impact on race or ethnicity.
Soave took note of Emily Yoffe's Atlantic pieces that suggested that minority students might be especially harmed by "the campus rape bureaucracy" empowered to erode due process.