Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her advisers have made a remarkably good start at ending the Obama administration’s abuse of federal regulatory power to attack the due-process rights of university students accused of sexual assault. But the more important task—the crafting of Title IX regulations to ensure fair treatment for both parties in campus cases—is ahead. Last September, DeVos publicly called for fairness to both sides in campus adjudications. About two weeks later, the Education Department withdrew the Title IX “guidance” that the Obama administration had imposed to specify guilt-presuming procedures for the nation’s colleges and universities to use. DeVos has also ended […]
In November 2014, a female member of Brown University’s debate team had oral sex with a male colleague while they watched a movie. Eleven months later, she filed a complaint with Brown, accusing him of sexual assault. Both parties in the case had credibility issues; he had violated a no-contact order, she had withheld from the university the bulk of their text messages. But the accused student possessed strong exculpatory evidence. He produced the full record of their communications, which included texts from the accuser to him discussing the encounter in a highly positive fashion and referencing a “plan” to […]
On Sept. 7, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos took on one of former President Barack Obama’s most controversial regulatory actions: a set of 2011 campus disciplinary procedures for students accused of sexual assault. Arguing that victims of assault were being denied justice, the Obama White House weakened traditional protections for the accused, like presumption of innocence and the right to cross-examine an accuser. DeVos, in a speech at George Mason University, said the system “is shameful, it is wholly un-American, and it is anathema to the system of self-governance to which our Founders pledged their lives over 240 years ago.” Not surprisingly, DeVos was […]
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on September 22 formally rescinded the Obama administration’s commands that universities use unfair rules in sexual-misconduct investigations—rules that had the effect of finding more students guilty of sexual assault. And she appears also to be preparing for far more forceful due-process protections down the road. Those follow-on regulations could require schools to presume that accused students are innocent unless proven guilty, to allow rigorous cross-examination of accusers, and perhaps also to grant the accused the unqualified right to appeal adverse decisions, and more. Meanwhile, the modest improvements that DeVos included in the “interim guidance” of September […]
With his legislative agenda in trouble, President Trump could do a lot of good by using his executive power to reverse an egregious example of the Obama administration’s bureaucratic tyranny. I refer to the 2011 command by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, and subsequent orders, forcing thousands of schools to take an aggressive role in the investigation and punishment of alleged sex crimes on college campuses. Under threat of losing federal funds, almost all schools have willingly complied with a procedural…
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Six Supreme Court justices Thursday came down for common sense and judicial self-restraint by rejecting, over bitter dissents, a legal challenge that had threatened to cripple President Obama’s Affordable Care Act in 34 states. Because the court sided with the president, Obamacare will continue in effect with no change from the current pattern of distributing to many millions of low-and-middle-income people in all 50 states the premium subsidies (in the form of tax credits) that make health insurance affordable for many or most of them.
A little-noticed part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act channels some $12.5 billion into a vaguely defined “Prevention and Public Health Fund” over the next decade—and some of that money is going for everything from massage therapists who offer “calming techniques,” to groups advocating higher state and local taxes on tobacco and soda, and stricter zoning restrictions on fast-food restaurants.
The program, which is run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has raised alarms among congressional critics, who call it a “slush fund,” because the department can spend the money as it sees fit and without going through the congressional appropriations process. The sums involved are vast. By 2022, the department will be able to spend $2 billion per year at its sole discretion. In perpetuity.
What makes the Prevention and Public Health Fund controversial is its multibillion-dollar size, its unending nature (the fund never expires), and its vague spending mandate: any program designed “to improve health and help restrain the rate of, growth” of health-care costs. That can include anything from “pickleball” (a racquet sport) in Carteret County, N.C. to Zumba (a dance fitness program), kayaking and kickboxing in Waco, TX.
“It’s totally crazy to give the executive branch $2 billion a year ad infinitum to spend as they wish,” said budget expert Jim Capretta of the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center. “Congress has the power of the purse, the purpose of which is to insure that the Executive branch is using taxpayer resources as Congress specified.”
Recent statements by Attorney General Eric Holder and by drug czar Gil Kerlikowske may signal an impending crackdown on the experiments with partial legalization of recreational marijuana for which solid majorities of the Colorado and Washington State electorates voted last November.
“When it comes to these marijuana initiatives, I think among the kinds of things we will have to consider is the impact on children,” Holder told a House appropriations subcommittee. “We are certainly going to enforce federal law.”
At a National Press Club luncheon, Kerlikowske asserted that “neither a state nor the executive branch can nullify” federal anti-marijuana laws, adding that “using marijuana has public health consequences.”
But the impact on children, and the public health consequences, are likely to be bad if the Obama administration cracks down on the hundreds of marijuana businesses that Colorado and Washington are preparing to license, regulate, and tax.
Such action would likely backfire — warping both federal and state drug policy for years to come — by aggravating the harm to public health, especially to kids, and the leakage of marijuana across state lines that the administration and other opponents of legalization want to prevent.
How would a crackdown backfire? By producing — immediately in Colorado, and eventually in other states — an atomized, anarchic, state-legalized but unregulated marijuana market that federal drug enforcers lack the manpower to contain and the legal power to force the states to contain.
Consider how a federal effort to abort the state experiment would unfold in Colorado, where the voters (unlike those in Washington) chose to create both a state-regulated marijuana industry and another, largely unregulated, one.
I have instructed my subordinates that suspected Al Qaeda terrorists captured anywhere in the world should be interrogated extensively — with safeguards against abuse — before any Miranda warnings or access to lawyers. This approach is legal and it may save lives. Although the specific evidence obtained might in some cases be inadmissible in court, the suspects will be prosecuted based on other evidence once interrogation is completed.
This is a major departure from the established policy of all past administrations, of the FBI, and until now of my administration. Nobody should fault those who diligently followed established policy in handling the suspect in the Christmas Day airplane bombing attempt. But I have decided that my new policy is more likely to obtain critical intelligence from captured terrorists.
President Obama should say something like this, something fairly dramatic, to counter the surging Republican campaign to brand him soft on terrorism.
He already faces a bipartisan push to block civilian trials of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other 9/11 conspirators and to kill his plan to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. Whether he wins or loses those battles, he risks permanent political damage unless he dispels the soft-on-terrorism charge.
The charge is unfair. But it is gaining traction because of two glaring mistakes.
One was the decision by Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department to advise Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab after only 50 minutes of interrogation that he had a right to stop talking — which he did. This blunder was compounded by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s fantasy that "the system worked," by Obama’s fatuous assertion that Abdulmutallab was "an isolated extremist," and by Holder’s unconvincing defense of the initial mistake in a five-page letter to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on February 3.
Dick Cheney has it backward. The problem with President Obama’s counter-terrorism policy isn’t its (rather limited) divergence from the Bush-Cheney approach. The problem is Obama’s emulation of one of the biggest Bush-Cheney mistakes.
That is relying too much on unilateral presidential power and judicial improvisation rather than seeking new legislation — as two notable judicial opinions have recently urged — to legitimize and regulate the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects outside the ordinary criminal process.
The case of the Nigerian who authorities say tried to blow up an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day has helped expose two reasons why this presidential unilateralism is intolerable.
First, treating terrorism suspects captured in America as ordinary criminal defendants from the moment of arrest unnecessarily rules out aggressive, incommunicado interrogation that might disrupt other plots and thus save lives. New legislation could legitimize questioning such people without lawyers for a limited period (maybe 10 days, or longer in exceptional cases) before launching the criminal process.
Second, Obama’s January 5 suspension of the transfer of Guantanamo Bay prisoners to Yemen — where the Christmas bombing plot was hatched — is the latest sign that he will perpetuate for years the George W. Bush-created regime of long-term detention without trial. Obama acted even though he has recognized this approach to be inconsistent with "our values and our Constitution" unless legitimized by careful congressional, as well as judicial, oversight.
The attacks by Cheney and other conservative critics on the administration’s handling of the case of would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab focus on the decision to treat him as an ordinary criminal defendant, with the usual Miranda rights, lawyers counseling silence, and all the rest.