Amy Coney Barrett on Due Process in Public University Sexual Misconduct Investigations
I thought I’d repeat a post I wrote up about this case last year, when it was handed down; see also Jacob Sullum’s post from yesterday on this subject.
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From Friday’s [June 28, 2019] Seventh Circuit decision in Doe v. Purdue Univ., written by Judge Amy Coney Barrett and joined by Judges Diane Sykes and Amy St. Eve:
After finding John Doe guilty of sexual violence against Jane Doe, Purdue University suspended him for an academic year and imposed conditions on his readmission. As a result of that decision, John was expelled from the Navy ROTC program, which terminated both his ROTC scholarship and plan to pursue a career in the Navy…. [We conclude that] John has adequately alleged violations of both the Fourteenth Amendment and Title IX.
The court concluded that, under Indiana law, university students have no property right in their continuing attendance at the university, and thus they can’t sue for deprivation of property without due process. (Federal courts disagree on this question: “The First, Sixth, and Tenth Circuits have recognized a generalized property interest in higher education. The Fifth and Eighth Circuits have assumed without deciding that such a property interest exists. The Second, Third, Fourth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits join [the Seventh Circuit] in making a state-specific inquiry to determine whether a property interest exists.”)
But the court held that Doe adequately alleged that he was being deprived of his liberty, on a so-called “stigma plus” theory: Purdue had been accusing him of a crime, and combining the stigma of this accusation with a one-year suspension, which led to his expulsion from the Navy ROTC program. (Mere alleged defamatory falsehoods aren’t seen as deprivations of liberty for Due Process Clause purposes, but alleged defamatory falsehoods coupled with tangible government action often are.) And, the court concluded, this deprivation of liberty was done without due process:
John’s circumstances entitled him to relatively formal procedures: he was suspended by a university rather than a high school, for sexual violence rather than academic failure, and for an academic year r
Article from Latest – Reason.com