Department of Education

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.


From 2013 to 2017, the task of enforcing Title IX—the federal statute that prohibits sex and gender-based discrimination in public education—fell to Catherine Lhamon, who served as assistant secretary for civil rights within President Barack Obama's Education Department.

Continuing the work of her predecessors, Lhamon's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) compelled colleges and universities to adopt sexual misconduct procedures that violated the due process and free speech rights of accused students and professors. Under her authority, the federal government pressured schools to adopt the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard, discourage attorneys from becoming involved, and move toward an adjudication model that relied upon the testimony of a single campus bureaucrat vested with investigative powers. When Betsy DeVos became secretary of education under President Donald Trump, she swiftly moved to reverse the agency's Title IX guidance and restore basic fairness to these proceedings.

But now that Joe Biden is in the White House, he's giving Lhamon her old job back: Last week, the president appointed her to be assistant secretary for civil rights once again.

"Lhamon's nomination is the latest example of the White House steering civil rights policy back toward the Obama administration's approach and is likely to please advocacy groups for victims of sexual assault and civil rights organizations," noted NBC News.

Assuming the Senate confirms her, Lhamon will be well-positioned to erode DeVos' reforms. As such, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has called on the Senate to vote her down.

"The United States Senate should reject Lhamon's nomination unless she commits under oath to maintaining key procedural protections in campus Title IX proceedings," said FIRE in a press release. "Among these are the rights to a live hearing to contest charges, to an express presumption of innocence, to meaningful cross-examination, and to access to all of the evidence in an institution's possession, including exculpatory evidence. Without that commitment, it is all but certain that the Department of Education will return to its discredited practice of trampling student rights."

Undoing DeVos' Title IX reforms will not be easy; the former secretary went through the rule-making and notice-and-comment processes, which give the reforms more staying power. But then again, the Obama-era Title IX push was accomplished via unilateral declaration—i.e., a "dear colleague" letter to universities instructing them to adopt certain procedures. It's not out of the realm of possibility that this strategy would be deployed once again.

(Disclosure: I currently serve on the D.C. advisory committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, which was chaired by Lhamon from 2017 to 2021. During that time period, I interacted with her on occasion.)

NEXT: The U.S. Doesn't Have a Labor Shortage. It Has an Incentive Shortage.

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  1. It might be the photo used, but she looks kinda dumb.

    1. She looks like she's up to something and doesn't give a poop what we think about it.

    2. She's bitter because no man finds her attractive without copious amounts of alcohol.

    3. If the only time people see minorities and women on TV, they are either lying or morons, it may have the opposite affect on the populace as progressives expect.

  2. Good luck with attempting to block her nomination - the Democrats in the Senate always vote lockstep in these matters and since there are 53 Democratic senators and only 47 Republicans, well, you do the math.

    1. Can't. Math is Racist.

    2. "since there are 53 Democratic senators and only 47 Republican"

      Where the fuck did you get those numbers from.

      US Senate Party Division

      117th Congress (2021–2023)
      Majority Party: Democrats (48 seats)
      Minority Party: Republicans (50 seats)
      Other Parties: 2 Independents (both caucus with the Democrats)
      Total Seats: 100

      1. maybe neglecting to include the (D) (R)s?

      2. Serious question Mathew: Have you ever considered keeping track of how certain commentators post?

        1. Especially Jerryskids, who's been slinging high-quality snark here for years.

      3. He's counting Collins, Murkowski and Romney.

  3. Obama Carter phase 3 engaged and ready to terrorize the public.

    1. You beat me to it!

  4. I trust that no one is surprised by this.

  5. White woman? They're the majority so that makes her an oppressor.

    1. Didn't anyone ever tell you to not judge a book by it's cover?

      1. Your right, you should judge a book by it's contents, so let's open her up and look at her contents...

  6. Robby expects that the level of bureaucratic adherence to the rules will be demanded of the Trump administration for regulatory rule making will be expected of the Biden Administration. How quaintly naive.

  7. Haven Monahan hardest hit.

  8. We got what they voted for.

  9. Thank god we have some sanity back in government, am I right fellow Reason cotributors?

    1. It’s like when dad was driving the car home, and you could sleep!

  10. >>push was accomplished via unilateral declaration—i.e., a "dear colleague" letter to universities instructing them to adopt certain procedures

    and utter capitulation by the machine.

    1. utter capitulation by the machine.

      I'm not 100% sure what you mean by the machine. But if it is as seems the education system this should not be understood as capitulation. The education system was and remains an ally fully supportive of these rules. Education institutions were afraid to implement these rules on their own initiative since they are obviously illegal and would would subject those who enacted them to scrutiny, and would have hurt enrollment and the reputations of whichever institutions implemented them first.

      The plan to manufacture a government mandate avoids all these problems. By implementing these across the board no single institution could be punished, plus since they were supposedly responding to a government mandate there was little to no risk of lawsuits based on the policy itself.

      1. >>The education system was and remains an ally fully supportive of these rules.

        we're saying the same thing. you do it more eloquently.

        1. It's amazing how civil this comment section has become, just over the past several days; about the same time as the "mute" button appeared.

    1. Nope! I voted for Jo Jorgensen.

      1. The woman who promoted race-based marxism

      2. Sorry, Robby, I wasn't referring to you specifically, because I know you voted for Jo. I should have been more clear.

        I was referring to the other half of the Reason docket.

      3. Marianne Williamson clearly sexier.

        1. Lol, +

      4. Capitulating to the puppet of Big Fruit Sushi and Big Hair Care yet again, I see.

  11. Phrasing, Robby.

  12. A lot of bad news today.

  13. "But it's too scary to confront the person I'm accusing...."

  14. Title IX—the federal statute that prohibits sex and gender-based discrimination in public education

    I want to congratulate Robby for stopped claiming Title IX is the federal statute which prohibits sexual assault on college campuses. The good news is that they can learn, the bad news is this simple step took 8 years.

  15. This is what you campaigned for

  16. But I can sleep well, knowing that POTUS won't tweet something stupid at 2 am.

  17. Obama 2.0 and Reason supported it!

  18. Are we pretending that there's anyone, at all, actually willing to enforce Title IX in the United States? Let's read it, for those unfamiliar:

    No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance

    Now, let us say you are a male, and your gender identity is male, and you apply to be on the girl's volleyball team at your high school. What happens?

    Well, since the volleyball team is a program or activity, they let you play, right? After all, they can't exclude you on the basis of sex. That's what Title IX says, right there in black-and-white.

    And there's no exception for sports. There's a provision down a ways that that explicitly says that "this section shall not preclude father-son or mother-daughter activities at an educational institution, but if such activities are provided for students of one sex, opportunities for reasonably comparable activities shall be provided for students of the other sex".

    But there is no such provision for single-sex sports. Congress considered the universe of activities with discrimination by sex, and the only ones that they allow with "reasonably comparable activities" are mother-daughter and father-son activities. You also have outright exemptions for Boys/Girls State/Nation, sororities, fraternities, the YMCA, the YWCA, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, Campfire Girls, and beauty contests, with no requirement for "reasonably comparable activities" in any of those cases.

    So, let's stop pretending there's anybody even contemplating Title IX enforcement in the US.

    1. You should read the act. There are carveouts within the bill that contradict what you've said:

      Section 86.34(c): This section does not prohibit separation of students by sex within physical education classes or activities during participation in wrestling, boxing, rugby, ice hockey, football, basketball and other sports the purpose or major activity of which involves bodily contact.

      Also Section 86.41(b): (b) Separate teams. Notwithstanding the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section, a recipient may operate or sponsor separate teams for members of each sex where selection for such teams is based upon competitive skill or the activity involved is a contact sport. However, where a recipient operates or sponsors a team in a particular sport for members of one sex but operates or sponsors no such team for members of the other sex, and athletic opportunities for members of that sex have previously been limited, members of the excluded sex must be allowed to try-out for the team offered unless the sport involved is a contact sport. For the purposes of this part, contact sports include boxing, wrestling, rugby, ice hockey, football, basketball and other sports the purpose of major activity of which involves bodily contact.

      1. "which involves bodily contact."

        So not volleyball or softball?

  19. Too bad "Reason" spent four years attacking Trump and at least implicitly (and often explicitly) cheerleading for totalitarianism.

    But hey, the important thing is that "free trade' (better described as Chinese mercantillism) has been saved.

  20. And again we'll see that "Due Process" only applies to you if you're one of the favored classes. White, male, college students need not apply.

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