Tag: Northwestern University

Department of Justice to Universities: Title IX Requires You to Violate First Amendment

 

shutterstock_3359855The feds are once again pushing an unconstitutional definition of harassment on universities. The latest push, coming in the form of a “findings letter” issued to the University of New Mexico, is all the more concerning because it’s coming directly from the Department of Justice. Universities are forced to choose between adopting a wildly unconstitutional definition of harassment or face the possibility of losing their federal funding and the wrath of the DOJ.

As FIRE writes in our new press release:

The shockingly broad conception of sexual harassment mandated by DOJ all but guarantees that colleges and universities nationwide will subject students and faculty to months-long investigations—or worse—for protected speech. In recent years, unjust “sexual harassment” investigations into protected student and faculty speech have generated national headlines and widespread concern. Examples include:

The Hollow Men of the NLRB

 

NLRBlogoT.S. Eliot’s remarkable 1925 poem, “The Hollow Men,” ends with these oft-quoted lines: “This is the way the world ends—Not with a bang, but a whimper.“ Those words capture, in a far less grand context, this week’s decision by the National Labor Relations Board involving the efforts of some Northwestern University varsity football players to organize athletes on scholarship as “statutory employees” protected by the National Labor Relations Act.

Last year, a regional NLRB ruling took the side of the players, a decision that, as I wrote here at the time, was on the shakiest of grounds. There is no reason to rehash those legal arguments, because no one wanted a decision on the merits this week. The key task now is to explore the political forces behind the decision.

NLRB rulings are normally split sharply along party lines. In this case, however, the Board issued a unanimous decision that “it would not effectuate the policies of the Act to assert jurisdiction in this case … even if we assume, without deciding, that the grant-in-aid scholarship players are employees within the meaning of Section 2(3)” of the Act. Their reasoning: because it is clear that the definition of an “employer” under Section 2(2) excludes any state (including any state-run university), any ensuing regulations would apply to teams like Northwestern but not to their public university counterparts, upsetting the competitive balance in college sports. And so it is that a widely heralded decision that gave rise to both great hopes and fears has ended with a jurisdictional whimper.