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Presumed Guilty: Catherine Lhamon Cannot be Entrusted with the Job of Enforcing Anti-Discrimination Rules in Colleges

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Rebecca Stewart: 513-479-3335


Presumed Guilty: Catherine Lhamon Cannot be Entrusted with the Job of Enforcing Anti-Discrimination Rules in Colleges

WASHINGTON / July 14, 2021 – Following Catherine Lhamon’s false claim that the current Title IX rule does not include a presumption of innocence, SAVE is calling on senators to vote ‘No’ on her nomination to lead the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

The 2020 Title IX regulation stresses the importance of the presumption of innocence in campus adjudications. The rule affirms that the grievance process must “Include a presumption that the respondent is not responsible for the alleged conduct until a determination regarding responsibility is made at the conclusion of the grievance process.” (Section 106.45(b)(1)(iv))

But the following exchange, which took place during Tuesday’s HELP Committee hearing, reveals a level of ignorance or dishonesty on Lhamon’s part (1):

SEN. RICHARD BURR: “Would you support keeping a presumption of innocence requirement in the current Title IX rule, if the Title IX rule is changed?”

CATHERINE LHAMON: “I’m trying to not to over-lawyer. But there is no presumption of innocence in the existing Title IX regulation.”

SEN. RICHARD BURR: “My question was, would you support keeping a presumption of innocence?”

CATHERINE LHAMON: “Yes, I understood that. But I couldn’t keep something is not there. It is not there now.”

Lhamon would only commit to saying that Title IX adjudicators “should be open to the possibility” that the accused student isn’t guilty. Lhamon’s clarification suggests that she endorses a presumption of guilt standard.

Sometimes referred to as a “fundamental right,” the presumption of innocence can be traced back through centuries of legal precedent (2). The recent Doe v. Miami University decision upheld the presumption of innocence in campus cases. The Sixth Circuit Court ruled that Susan Vaughn, a member of the college adjudication panel, exercised an undue influence on the panel’s decision-making process with a harmful result: “Vaughn’s dual roles undermined her neutrality enough to overcome the presumption of impartiality afforded school officials,” the Court ruled (3).

Executive Branch officials must possess a basic understanding of the laws and regulations they are sworn to uphold, and must be fully truthful in their statements before a Senate committee. SAVE urges all members of the Senate to vote ‘No’ on the nomination of Catherine Lhamon as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education.

Twenty editorials, written by liberal and conservative commentators, have been published to date opposing the Lhamon nomination:

  1. Shep Melnick & Peter H. Schuck, Biden’s Troubling Nominee to Head the Office of Civil Rights, Real Clear Politics (June 23, 2021)
  2. Biden’s nominee is a ‘wolf at the door’ when it comes to due process rights for accused students, attorney warns, The College Fix (June 16, 2021)
  3. Washington Examiner Staff, The truth about controversial Education nominee Catherine Lhamon, Washington Examiner (June 15, 2021)
  4. Justin Dillon and Stuart Taylor Jr., Opinion contributors, Ending due process: Reinstating Catherine Lhamon at the Dept. of Education is a mistake; Lhamon’s nomination is a threat to the new rules and culture of fairness. She will roll back due process protections in college sexual assault cases. USA Today (June 14, 2021)
  5. Rick Moran, Biden’s Nominee for the DOE’s Office for Civil Rights May Be His Most Radical Yet, PJ Media (June 8, 2021)
  6. Grant Addison, Deputy Editor, Biden’s worst nominee, Washington Examiner (June 03, 2021)
  7. KC Johnson, The Biggest Enemy of Campus Due Process from the Obama Years Is Back, National Review (June 1, 2021)
  8. Paul du Quenoy, Senate Should Reject Biden’s Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights, Dismantle Title IX, Newsmax (June 1, 2021)
  9. Nic Valdespino, Biden’s War on Due Process, Accuracy in Academia (May 26, 2021)
  10. Tristan Justice, Biden Aims To Rehire Obama Title IX Enforcer Opposed To Due Process, The Federalist (May 20, 2021)
  11. Families Advocating for Campus Equality, FACE Strongly Opposes Catherine Khamon’s Return to the Department of Education’s Office For Civil Rights (May 20, 2021)
  12. Richard V Reeves, Don’t Roll Back Due Process on Campus; Biden wants to expand Title IX. Current rules on sexual assault strike a better balance between the rights of victims and the accused, Persusion (May 19, 2021)
  13. Robby Soave, Catherine Lhamon, Obama’s Title IX Enforcer, Just Got Her Old Job Back; Biden has tapped her to be assistant secretary for civil rights yet again, Reason (May 19, 2021)
  14. Robert Shibley, Brace for a Title IX train wreck: Biden is courting disaster as he reverts to bad old rules on campus sexual misconduct allegations, New York Daily News (May 18, 2021)
  15. SAVE, The Nomination of Catherine Lhamon: An Oxymoronic Injustice. (May 15, 2021).
  16. National Association of Scholars, Biden Nominee for the Office of Civil Rights Could Reverse Devos’ Due Process Reforms; Catherine Lhamon’s nomination to the Office of Civil Rights promises a return to the “bad old days” when Title IX due process violations were rampant (May 14, 2021)
  17. Mike LaChanceBiden Picks Catherine Lhamon, Enemy of Campus Due Process, To Head Civil Rights Office in Education Dept.; “By putting forward Lhamon for this crucial role, President Biden has signaled that he would rather colleges go back to old, failed policies”, Legal Insurrection (May 14, 2021)
  18. Alexis Gravely, President Biden’s nominee for assistant secretary for civil rights is no stranger to the Department of Education — Catherine Lhamon held the same position during the Obama administration., Inside Higher Ed (May 14, 2021)
  19. Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, Biden’s pick of Catherine Lhamon as civil rights head could mean a return to Obama-era policies, Higher Ed Dive (May 13, 2021)
  20. Joe Cohn, Statement: Nomination of Catherine Lhamon a return to ‘old, failed policies’, FIRE (May 13, 2021)


  1. Minute 56.