California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill Monday that would have preserved the Obama administration’s new guidelines for sexual assault cases on university campuses, and which the Trump administration has reversed.
The bill, SB 169, was co-sponsored by State Senate President pro Tem (and U.S. Senate candidate) Kevin de León, and was part of a broader “resistance” effort against President Donald Trump and his policies. Specifically, the bill was a response to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s new policy on sexual assault on campus, which includes more safeguards for the rights of students accused of misconduct, whose careers may be ruined even if innocent.
The Obama administration’s Title IX policy prioritized the interests of the accuser over the rights of the accused. It was part of a recent pattern on the left in which the civil rights of defendants have been cast aside in favor of broader goals of social justice — such as the effort to reduce the role grand juries play in prosecutions of police. That reversed centuries of civil rights activism, in which liberals had often sought more protections for defendants.
In a veto statement dated Sunday, Brown noted: “This is not a simple issue … [T]houghtful legal minds have increasingly questioned whether federal and state actions prevent and redress sexual harassment and assault — well-intentioned as they are — have also unintentionally resulted in some colleges’ failure to uphold due process for accused students. … I am not prepared to codify additional requirements in reaction to a shifting federal landscape.”
Brown’s veto, and his sound legal reasoning, are a rare example of what used to be a more common mindset among American liberals — preserving the rights of the individual and measuring policies by their effects instead of their intentions. Certainly that is not an approach Brown takes to every issue: his obsession with high-speed rail is a case of left-wing utopianism taken to an expensive extreme. But he may be the last true liberal in office in America.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.