When future historians reflect back on our present moment, it’s entirely possible that liberal California judges, rather than the Trump administration, will get credit for pulling the plug on the progressive experiment of denying basic due-process rights to American male college students. That’s the takeaway from a stunning Los Angeles Times report from late last week. California’s university justice system — by far the largest in the United States — is reeling not because of Trump’s Department of Education but because of a series of rulings from California courts:
Colleges and universities across California are scrambling to revise the way they handle sexual misconduct cases after a state appellate court ruled that “fundamental fairness” requires that accused students have a right to a hearing and to cross-examine their accusers.
The California State system, for example, has “stopped proceedings in 75 cases.” Other colleges in the state are rapidly revising their policies.
There are three notable things about this ruling.
First, the case in question took place at a private university. In other words, the court wasn’t determining the case on constitutional grounds but rather on grounds potentially much more favorable to the university: It was just asking whether the university’s procedures were “fundamentally fair.”
Second, it remains remarkable that universities ever believed there was anything remotely workable or proper about procedures so heavily biased against the accused. They allowed a radical ideology — #BelieveWomen — to trump everything we’ve learned about the fundamentals of justice across thousands of years of human experience. Simply put, there is no category of accusation that is so obviously and inherently true that justice demands denying a meaningful defense to the (mostly male) students accused of sexual assault.
Third, it is vitally important that California courts delivered this serious blow to campus kangaroo courts. It has never been the case that pushback in favor of due process has come only from conservatives. Progressive law professors and many other progressive voices have sounded alarms for years. It is critical that the legal counterattack hasn’t come exclusively from the (hated-by-the-academy) Trump administration or from (hated-by-the-academy) Trump-appointed judges. While Obama and Clinton appointees have delivered their share of rulings against universities, no one can reasonably argue that the California state courts are in thrall to Trump.