Due Process Demands As Propaganda: The Rhetoric of Title IX Opposition

17 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2017 Last revised: 6 Jun 2017

Date Written: June 4, 2017


This Article focuses on a particular kind of objection to Title IX, which I call due process demands. They may take many forms, but the central idea is that students who are accused of misconduct, like sexual harassment or assault, are denied due process in campus adjudications—that such adjudications are unfair to the accused. This has become a criticism of Title IX, rather than universities themselves, largely because of the Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), which clarified some of the ways that universities must conduct these adjudications. This, in turn, is taken to be either a devastating objection to compliance with the DCL and/or an imperative on universities to provide more process for the accused, whether within the bounds of the DCL or not. I argue that such demands function as political rhetoric, specifically as a sort of propaganda, drawing on a recent taxonomy of propaganda. First, I explain what due process demands are, focusing particular attention on the discourse surrounding Title IX at Harvard Law School. Second, I explain what propaganda is and is not, drawing on recent philosophical work on propaganda and philosophy of language generally. Third, I apply the analysis to the case of due process demands, showing how and why such demands function as propaganda. Finally, I draw conclusions about what this means for the debate over Title IX itself.

Keywords: title ix, sexual assault, feminism, gender, law, philosophy, propaganda, language, philosophy of language, feminist jurisprudence, harassment, ideology, rape culture, objectification

Suggested Citation

Curtis, Annaleigh, Due Process Demands As Propaganda: The Rhetoric of Title IX Opposition (June 4, 2017). Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, Vol. 29, 2017, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2980500

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