Trump’s Campus Harassment Rule Gets Texas Backing in Court Fight
(Bloomberg) -- Texas won a court ruling that could complicate Joe Biden’s plan to put a “quick end” to a Trump administration rule that the new president says weakened efforts to combat sexual harassment at schools and college campuses.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, was granted permission Thursday to intervene as a defendant in a lawsuit filed last year by 19 other states, which argued the U.S. Department of Education rule in May undermined the landmark Title IX law requiring universities to be free of discrimination based on sex, including sexual assault and harassment.
U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, a Donald Trump appointee, granted the Texas request over the objection of the Democrat attorneys general who said Paxton’s concerns were based on “speculative fears” about the Biden administration.
The move by Paxton is his latest effort to defend policies from Trump’s one-term presidency, and hints at the legal challenges Biden may face as he implements his own initiatives. Last month, Texas won a temporary restraining order against Biden’s plan to freeze deportations for 100 days, arguing the pause would violate an agreement the state reached with the Trump administration to be consulted on any changes to immigration policy.
The Title IX case in federal court in Washington had been on track to become moot as Biden, who took office last month, vowed to change the rule he called “a green light to ignore sexual violence.” The new president’s criticism echoed the lawsuit’s claim that the Trump rule erodes privacy protections for victims and creates unfair barriers to filing complaints.
“In light of this sea change, Texas can no longer rely on the Department to adequately represent its interests in defending the Final Rule,” Paxton, an outspoken Trump booster, said in the state’s request to intervene, which was filed on the last full day of the Trump administration.
In his ruling, Nichols said courts have “wide latitude” to allow parties to intervene, and that “Texas sought intervention near the time its interests diverged from the Department of Education.”
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