One swallow does not a summer make, Aristotle reminded us, but he might have added that with an arrogant crow, a robin or two, a mockingbird and a flock of sparrows, pretty soon you have the makings of a chorus.
Aristotle was a wise old bird, and there are signs, small but visible, that the courts — not all of them, but some of them — have had enough of the rape of due process on the campuses of the distinguished citadels of higher learning (so called). The offended guardians of the law are doing something about it.
Whether by conviction or from intimidation by the ladies, college administrators have thrown out fundamental precepts of due process and law in these campus proceedings to give radical women what they think they want.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, determined to rescue and protect the Fifth Amendment from lower-court abuse, has established a precedent blocking biased sexual-assault proceedings that will likely be used to put college administrators in their place. The decision was the work of a panel of the 7th Circuit composed only of women, which decided unanimously to correct an atrocious verdict. The panel was led by Judge Amy Coney Barrett, from whom we are likely to hear more, a lot more, later. She still is on President Trump’s list of prospective Supreme Court justices.
A female student at Purdue University in Indiana accused her boyfriend of “groping” her as she slept — you might wonder how she knew about it — and when she complained, Purdue conducted an investigation described by David French in National Review as “so amateurish and biased that it’s frankly difficult to imagine that human adults could believe it was fair or adequate.” But that’s the point of such “investigations” as conducted on many campuses by administrators who are terrified they might get a verdict, whether good or bad, that displeases the vigilantes riding into campus courts on kangaroos. Such investigations are not intended to be fair, only to relieve neutered administrators from radical-feminist intimidation.
The male student said in his appeal that he had no opportunity to see or examine “any of the evidence the [proceedings] relied on to determine guilt and punishment.” He had no opportunity to cross-examine his accuser, which would have been difficult in any event because she was not there. The campus panel found the accuser “credible” even though the panel never saw her, did not talk to her, and she was not required to swear a written allegation or even to write her own statement. The young man was not allowed to present witnesses or evidence.
What kind of education can a Purdue student, or more important a Purdue parent, expect from such professors or administrators? The university found the student guilty, suspended him for a year at the cost of the young man’s Navy scholarship from the Reserve Officers Training Program and his expulsion from the ROTC program. Purdue and whatever lawyers the university employs got the beginnings of a legal education from the 7th Circuit, and in particular from Judge Barrett.
The Purdue process, such as it was, Judge Barrett said, “fell short of what even a high school must provide to a student facing a days-long suspension.” Withholding evidence from the plaintiff was sufficient to render the proceedings unfair, as was “the failure to provide any means of examining the accuser’s credibility.” The evidence available, Judge Barrett wrote, suggests the Purdue panel “decided that [the plaintiff] was guilty based on the accusation rather than the evidence.”
There was more, enough to frighten the thoughtful among the administrators and their lawyers. The young man alleges that Purdue’s finding violates Title IX, which governs many things on a campus, by discriminating against men. Believe it or not, and this will come as a surprise to many women and their lawyers, that’s against the law, too, and the young man can proceed to show evidence of Title IX violation. Part of the evidence is Purdue’s abuse of the young man.
The universities and their lawyers applauded the Obama administration’s earlier rejection of due process and the campus embrace of mobs looking for men to string up to a lamp post as punishment for being men. It’s one of the most sordid chapters of life in the academy. Punishment first, evidence later, was satire when Lewis Carroll wrote of the adventures of Alice in Wonderland. Now it’s orthodox campus practice.
Mixing ideology with kangaroo law has been “the way it’s supposed to be,” but now the tables are turning. Cowardice is always ugly, and it’s always good, one swallow or not, to see cowards, wherever found, get their just desserts. It’s good for an abused plaintiff, too.
• Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.