Marco Rubio Doesn’t Care About Campus Due Process

Two updates on the congressional efforts to mandate weakened due process protections on campus.

First, the Washington Examiner’s Ashe Schow sent a list of questions to the eight co-sponsors of the Senate “Campus Accountability and Safety Act.” Only one office—that of Marco Rubio (R-Florida)—appears to have responded. The spokesperson’s comments would do little to reassure people of the legislation’s intent.

Noting the bill’s requirement for campus support services for accusers, Schow asked Rubio what the bill would do for the accused. After all, if the senators had any concern with due process, they would want to ensure, as Schow’s question noted, that there would be someone on campus providing accused students “with information on what they can do to provide for their own defense,” and that accused students would be “informed of their rights.” Schow also asked a key question: “Will those rights be under the law (due process) or under campus rules?”

The one-sentence response of Rubio’s spokesperson, Alex Conant? “This bill does not address this issue.” So much for even the pretense of fairness.

Schow’s question elicited a second intriguing response. The Examiner reporter wanted to know, under the bill’s terms, whether college officials or local law enforcement would have the most “authority” over the investigation.

The spokesperson’s response? Neither. “The victim will have the most authority.” But, of course, at the investigation stage (the time-frame in the question), there is no “victim”: there’s an accuser and an accused student. If the allegation turns out to be false, the “victim” would be the falsely accused student. But in Rubio’s mind, it appears that the accuser is always the victim. Since Rubio believes that “the victim will have the most authority,” does that authority include the power to close down an investigation if the college or police conclude the “victim” has lied?

Second, in the wake of the McCaskill bill, a second measure, sponsored by two California Democrats (Susan Davis in the House and Barbara Boxer in the Senate), was introduced. It seems the chief purpose of the Boxer/Davis bill is to make the McCaskill measure look, by comparison, like the work of the ACLU.

The bill would require all colleges that receive federal funds to appoint “an independent advocate for campus sexual assault and prevention” who “shall represent the interests of the student victim even when in conflict with the interests of the institution.” As with the McCaskill-Rubio offering, Boxer and Davis appear to assume that an accuser is automatically a “student victim.”

The scope of the advocate’s power is enormous. According to the bill’s terms, the advocate must be given the power to “conduct a public information campaign” regarding campus sexual assault services, to include “training coaches, faculty, school administrators, and other staff” regarding the advocate’s role.

Second, the advocate must receive authority to attend “at the request of the victim of sexual assault, any administrative or institution-based adjudication proceeding related to such assault as an advocate for the victim.”

Yet the Boxer/Davis offering contains no such requirement for the accused student. It gives a sense of how the two California Democrats view due process that they want to require colleges to provide a quasi-legal “advocate” for the complaining witness, but see no need to require such a position for the accused student.

From Boxer to Rubio, due process has no political lobby.


  • KC Johnson

    KC Johnson is a history professor at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is the author, along with Stuart Taylor, of The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America's Universities.

6 thoughts on “Marco Rubio Doesn’t Care About Campus Due Process

  1. Dear KC, I’ve followed your commentary on this matter and of course you are right. However, I am tempted to throw up my arms and claim: Charlie Darwin will take care of this! U of C, the Ivies, and the other usual suspects may well wither, and one or the other school, here and there, not caught up in this primitivism, may well prosper. A long and needlessly expensive process, I know. But that’s the alternative and it’s looking pretty good!

  2. I was willing to forgive Rubio for his stumble on immigration reform. I assumed he just got rolled by a trickier politician. But this confirms to me that whatever Rubio believes, it’s not in small government. There is an old Scottish saying: “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”

  3. Well, the answer to the actual question that was asked (whether anyone will advise accused students of their rights) is not addressed on the bill – it is left up to each individual university. So as far as that goes, the spokesman was correct.

    When they are talking about advising accused students of their “rights” under this new process, the better question is “Rights? WHAT rights?”

  4. Great piece… Presumably, the “advocate” will be conducting some sort of quasi, at least, investigation..That Inquiry, in the case of sexual assault, is directly infringing into the Criminal Justice system, that is the proper place for crimes to be investigated, and referred to a Grand Jury, dismissed, or something else.. The “accused” has no rights whatsoever. No opportunity for any kind of defense, no opportunity to bring witnesses or present evidence, and no ability to question/challenge an accuser. This is dry tinder for jilted companions to create havoc in a young man’s life. Rape is a crime and should be investigated by the Crimianl Justice system. The accused… He/She, as the case may be, because this “could” go the other way at some point, where a Male accuses a Female, is presumed guilty from the get go. Without due process and the ability to have counsel or ANY OTHER SORT OF REPRESENTATION, it makes no sense at all for an accused to participate in any way,does it? You could only incriminate yourself by participating, and a case made fabrictaed/constructed, even though this may have been consensual ,referred ultimately to the Criminal Justice system, and you have already surredered your rights in the University setting… I would imagine families would be best to advise their son to say nothing if he is ever brought before one of these advocates. Am I wrong to think that way?

  5. Of course there’s a victim at the investigative process. It’s just unclear who the victim is. How these members of Congress can tell in advance and all the way over in Washington DC defies understanding. Perhaps we should ask.

    This legislation will support, on occasion, the victimizer to commit a crime upon the victim by helping them persecute via false prosecution. How often does this have to happen before the sponsors are no longer comfortable with the carnage as a cost of doing the business of justice in 21st century America?

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