The White House on Thursday announced the nomination of Catherine Lhamon to serve as an assistant secretary for civil rights in the Department of Education, the same job she held in the Obama era when she pushed the #MeToo agenda on college campuses.
In the Obama administration, Ms. Lhamon penned a letter to university administrators that prompted most institutions of higher learning to adopt a lesser standard of proof in allegations of sexual misconduct on campus.
Before Ms. Lhamon’s letter in 2011, colleges had used a “clear and convincing” standard of evidence to adjudicate sexual misconduct cases, but feeling the letter threatened federal funding unless they took a more aggressive approach, most schools dropped to the “more likely than not” standard.
The Obama administration insisted the letter was for guidance purposes only and did not carry the force of law but many college presidents told InsideHigherEd and other publications they interpreted it as a clear warning.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a libertarian group that has criticized the Obama administration’s enforcement of Title IX civil rights regulations said it was dismayed with Mr. Biden’s choice which it characterized as “a return to old, failed policies.”
“Under Lhamon’s leadership, the Office for Civil Rights enforced guidance that gutted due process protections and violated the First Amendment,” FIRE said in a statement. “Lhamon used that guidance to pressure institutions to restrict constitutionally protected speech and disregard basic procedural protections in campus disciplinary hearings.”
With her return to the position, Ms. Lhamon would also be deeply involved in issues surrounding women’s athletics, which have become a litigious area in which biological males who are transwomen argue they should be allowed to compete against biological women.
Ms. Lhamon’s duties would make her the department’s key person on LGBTQ issues on campus and alleged racial harassment matters.
At the moment, Ms. Lhamon is a deputy assistant to Mr. Biden and the deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council for Racial Justice and Equity where she manages the president’s “equity policy portfolio,” according to the White House.
In addition to her Department of Education duties, Mr. Obama appointed Ms. Lhamon to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights where she served as chair until January 2021.
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