Higher Education, Antisemitism, and the Law

27 Pages Posted: 24 Dec 2014  

Kenneth L. Marcus

The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law

Date Written: December 22, 2014


This paper evaluates the trio of recent, high-profile trilogy of campus anti-Semitism cases that the U.S. Department of Education simultaneously dismissed in what plaintiffs’ counsel have characterized as a “Saturday Night Massacre.” In these cases, complainants argued that university administrators at three campuses of the University of California (Berkeley, Irvine and Santa Cruz) violated the rights of Jewish students by tolerating an environment in which the students were directly harassed or subjected to a hostile environment. In all of them, the agency rejected claims that the university had violated the rights of students under Title VI. The three cases turn on two fundamental questions: What is a Jew? And what is anti-Semitism? Although the agency does not explicitly address either question in these decisions, a close reading reveals that they have been at the root of OCR’s failure to pursue campus anti-Semitism cases to their proper conclusions. Reasonable people may differ on the appropriate disposition of these cases. Regardless of one’s view of the ultimate disposition however it is difficult to justify the reasoning by which OCR got to its dismissals. This paper is based on a lecture given at Harvard Law School sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy.

Keywords: Anti-Semitism, antisemitism, Jewish identity, OCR, Department of Education, Title VI, Jewish civil rights, Jewish students, Israel anti-Semitism

Suggested Citation

Marcus, Kenneth L., Higher Education, Antisemitism, and the Law (December 22, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2541907 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2541907

Kenneth L. Marcus (Contact Author)

The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law ( email )

1776 I Street, N.W., Suite 900
Washington, DC 20006
United States

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