Bill would undermine due process and privacy on campus

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 - 11:02 am
Last Modified: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 - 12:38 pm

Re "SB 967 would improve rape response at California colleges" (Editorials, Feb. 15): As a lawyer who practiced education law for years, I was appalled by your endorsement of Senate Bill 967, which undermines due process on campus.

The bill would promote "anonymous reporting of sexual assault." That would prevent cross-examination needed to expose false allegations.

The bill would also invade students' privacy by redefining some consensual sex as rape. It would impose an "affirmative consent standard," which the editorial board says "means that 'yes' only means 'yes' if it is said out loud." Most happily-married couples would be deemed rapists under this definition, since in real life, consent seldom takes the form of an explicit "yes," especially in long-term relationships.

The bill also seeks to force colleges to use a low "preponderance" standard of proof. But as the Yale Law Journal has noted, "the appropriate standard of proof in student disciplinary cases is one of 'clear and convincing' evidence."

-- Hans Bader, Arlington, VA, senior attorney, Competitive Enterprise Institute

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