In what some media analysts are chalking up as a “victory” for student activists on campus, Harvard announced this week that Judge Brett Kavanaugh will not be returning in January to teach a scheduled three-week course on the modern history of the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh has been teaching the course for over a decade. The reason the announcement is controversial is that it comes at the same time that students have been protesting Kavanaugh and calling for the course to be shut down. As Robby Soave at Reason points out, however, there’s more to the story. The “activists” in question have been calling on students to file multiple Title IX complaints against the judge.
On Monday, Harvard University announced that embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh would not be teaching his three-week Law School course this year. More than 800 alumni had signed a letter asking Harvard to cancel the class.
Additionally, student-activists had lobbied their classmates to file Title IX complaints against Kavanaugh. Nearly 50 students signed a petition indicating they had done so, though it’s not clear all of them actually did, according to The Harvard Crimson…
One of the reasons Title IX reform has been so urgently necessary is that aggrieved students have weaponized the process in order to silence people—other students, invited speakers, faculty members—who offend them. Using Title IX to get rid of Kavanaugh, who is not accused of anything that would sustain a hostile educational environment charge, is a perfect example of this.
As to how and why the course was canceled, there is still some dispute over that. Reading the coverage at the Boston Globe, we find that the actual reason Harvard gave for the change was that Kavanaugh had contacted them, saying he “can no longer commit to teaching his course in January Term 2019, so the course will not be offered.”
Perhaps the judge had already decided that his new job on the Supreme Court would be keeping him too busy to spend three weeks teaching at Harvard. Or maybe he just didn’t feel like putting up with the protests and another media feeding frenzy so he decided to take a pass on it. Either way, he was obviously not “fired” by the administration at Harvard. If he had been they clearly would have said so in their announcement.
The bigger issue here is the one Soave points out in the linked article. This is yet another example of students twisting the original purpose of Title IX and weaponizing it for partisan political purposes. Samantha Harris, of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, is quoted as saying, “This is such an absurd contortion of Title IX that I suspect even those filing the complaint know it’s unlikely to succeed as a matter of law.”
We’ve been beating the drum about Title IX abuses here for years and this is clearly one of the more egregious examples in recent memory. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is actually only a single paragraph long. It was intended to correct the vast discrepancies between the amounts of money being spent on programs primarily benefitting male students over the ones females were participating in. This primarily dealt with sports programs, but other campus activities were included as well.
Unfortunately, that admirable goal has been perverted (with the full cooperation of the government during the Obama administration) by activists who claim that anything and everything under the sun which might create a “hostile climate” for women or minorities is a Title IX violation because it discourages them from seeking an education. That’s how we wound up with the campus kangaroo courts that attempt to settle sexual assault claims instead of turning to law enforcement and actual courts.
And now we have a group of students who think they can further distort the law to drive out any professor they have a political bone to pick with. The point is rather moot now, with Kavanaugh having voluntarily canceled the class, but if they get away with this in the case of any other teachers it will be past time for “reforming” Title IX. We should just get rid of it entirely and replace the language with something more specific and appropriate.