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Kamala Harris' Tie-Breaking Vote Needed to Confirm Biden Nominee

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Even in a 50-50 Senate, Democrats are still in the majority with Vice President Kamala Harris acting as a tie-breaking vote. She cast her decisive vote on Wednesday, so as to confirm Catherine Lhamon, the nominee for the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in a vote of 51-50.

In a column for Townhall from August, Devon Westonhill warned about Llhamon's previously holding the position, which is why, he argued, she is so dangerous for the job:

Lhamon previously held the position of Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education for which she is now, again, seeking Senate approval. Indeed, during her hearing in the Senate HELP Committee last month, Lhamon claimed repeatedly her previous experience from 2013-2016 in that role qualified her to assume the role again. However, it is for this very reason – as well as her cagey testimony on her stance on basic due process protections – that it is clear Lhamon will be a catastrophe if confirmed.

Lhamon played a key role in developing the President Obama-era regime prescribed by the infamous 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter that railroaded thousands of students accused of sex misconduct in gender-biased kangaroo courts. That regime failed to require campuses ensure basic due process protections such as access to all evidence, ability to cross-examine and therefore judge the credibility of witnesses, or even to ensure that accused students are afforded the bedrock American presumption of innocence until proven guilty.


To further disqualify herself, Lhamon claimed at her hearing campus Title IX bureaucrats should be “open to the possibility” that accused students are innocent. A suggestion that confirms her demonstrated contempt for a basic presumption of innocence.

Lhamon wasn't just "cagey," as Westonhill put it in his column. She also doubled down on defending a tweet of hers from May 5, 2020 taking aim at Trump's Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos, as Houston Keene highlighted in his reporting for Fox News.

While being questioned by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) about the tweet, Lhamon told the senator that "I think what I said in the tweet, the regulation permits students to rape and sexually harass with impunity. I think that the regulation has weakened the intent of Title IX that Congress wrote."

DeVos has called Lhamon "the worst of the worst," while education advocates are also concerned when it comes to due process. As Keene also wrote:

DeVos has spoken out on the president’s controversial nominee, calling the nominee "the worst of the worst."

"As far as nominations go, Catherine Lhamon is the worst of the worst," DeVos said. She said the notion Lhamon could continue to push Obama-era policies as head of the civil rights division, including establishing racial quotas, allowing biological males to use female bathrooms, and rolling back due process rights, is a "horrifying idea."


In a recent report, the nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) stated that the Trump-era Title IX regulations "bolstered due process at colleges," but that those changes have the potential to be undone with Lhamon’s confirmation.

"We were finally seeing student rights moving in the right direction, but Catherine Lhamon’s nomination just shows how threatened the progress we’ve made is," said FIRE Executive Director Robert Shibley in a statement. 

"If confirmed, Lhamon’s history and rhetoric indicate that she will put her thumb on the scale of justice — ripping away fundamental rights and encouraging a patently unfair shadow justice system that deprives students of their right to due process," he continued.

In response to criticism that the Obama administration's guidance in 2011 made it too easy for students falsely accused of sexual harassment to be denied due process and thus unfairly expelled from school, the Trump administration put in place Title IX regulations in 2020. 

A statement posted to the U.S. Department of Education website from Sec. of Education Miguel Cardona should also raise eyebrows. Emphasis is added:

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona issued the following statement on today's Senate confirmation of Catherine E. Lhamon as Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

"With this confirmation, our nation has once again gained a champion who will work each day to ensure that our public schools and institutions of higher education become ever fairer and more just. I am thrilled that Catherine will reprise her role at the U.S. Department of Education as Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights. In this role, she will lead the Department’s vital efforts to ensure our schools and college campuses are free from discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and disability and to protect all students’ civil rights in education. Catherine is one of the strongest civil rights leaders in America and has a robust record of fighting for communities that are historically and presently underserved. Catherine will continue fighting for fairness, equity, and justice for all of America's students, and I cannot wait for her to join the team."

The president has revealed that he insists on his nominees looking for "racial equity," and that it was even the first executive order he signed. 

Time will tell how long it takes for the Biden administration to revoke Trump's Title IX regulations, especially with Lhamon back in the post, and all in the name of "equity."


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