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Rigged: SAFER Act Bears Eerie Resemblance to Soviet-Era Legal System

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Rebecca Stewart: 513-479-3335


Rigged: SAFER Act Bears Eerie Resemblance to Soviet-Era Legal System

WASHINGTON / December 15, 2022 — The Students’ Access to Freedom and Educational Rights (SAFER) Act (1) was recently introduced in the Senate (S. 5158) and House of Representatives (H.R. 9387). The bill proposes to make numerous changes to campus Title IX adjudication procedures that would tilt the process in favor of the complainant. The changes are reminiscent of practices often seen in the former Soviet Union.

In the Soviet Union, Lavrentiy Beria, head of Stalin’s secret police, often boasted, “Show me the man, and I’ll show you the crime.”  Similarly, the SAFER Act would provide complainants a broad array of supports and protections, leaving accused persons to their own devices. (Section 205)

In the Soviet Union, “all aspects of the Soviet legal system were effectively subordinate to the leadership of the Soviet Communist Party,” according to University of Illinois law professor Peter Maggs (2).  On college campuses, ideologically committed Title IX coordinators wield enormous control over the processing of complaints. Under SAFER, their power would further expand to have a say over “teaching practices, textbooks, and curricula.” (Section 206)

In the Soviet Union, false allegations were rampant. Similarly, 40-50% of sexual assault allegations on American college campuses are known to be unfounded (3). Ironically, the SAFER Act would discourage a school from disciplining a person who makes a false allegation. (Section 205)

In the Soviet Union, investigators would slant their methods in order to reach a predetermined conclusion of guilt. Under the SAFER Act, campus investigators would be mandated to use “trauma-informed interview techniques” — methods that would further tilt what already is a biased Title IX process (4). (Section 205)

In the Soviet Union, “there was severe pressure from the party hierarchy to secure a 100 percent conviction rate, with the result that thereafter there were almost no acquittals.” (2) In the United States, Oberlin College once boasted it had a 100% conviction rate for Title IX cases (5).

As if to underscore the irrelevance of the SAFER bill, in three separate decisions this past week, federal judges issued rulings that illustrate the due process deficiencies of campus “kangaroo courts:”

  • The First Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court decision, and ruled against Stonehill College of Massachusetts for its deeply flawed adjudication methods (6).
  • Judge Reed O’Connor issued a ruling against Texas Christian University, finding that TCU had instructed that exculpatory evidence for the man was “not to [be] consider[ed],” “discussed or referenced” by the Title IX panel (7).
  • The District Court of Western Wisconsin ruled against the University of Wisconsin-Madison for various procedural errors against a male student that constituted sex discrimination (8).

SAVE urges lawmakers to oppose the SAFER Act.