How Trump Judges Are Undermining


AFJ Action Campaign is tracking the votes of every senator up for reelection in 2020 on Trump’s worst of the worst judges. Each senator who voted to confirm these judges owns the decisions—these decisions are harming people every day. See how your senator voted for some of the worst of the worst judges here.

In L.J. v. School Board of Broward County, Florida, Eleventh Circuit judge Britt Grant sided with a school that had failed to fully implement an individualized education program (IEP) for L.J., a middle school student with autism. According to Grant, the school’s failure to follow through with all of the sections of L.J.’s IEP was not a violation of the IDEA. As a result of her decision, it will be more difficult for students with disabilities to challenge schools that do not meet their legally protected educational needs.

In Foster v. Board of Regents, Sixth Circuit judges Amul Thapar, John Bush, Joan Larsen, and John Nalbandian cast deciding votes to overturn a panel decision and grant a summary judgment motion against a female MBA student who argued that her university was deliberately indifferent to the fact that she was sexually harassed by another student. The university declined to relocate or suspend the harasser despite him making unwanted physical contact with the female student multiple times, exposing himself to her, and sending offensive or threatening messages that made her fear for her safety; he was ultimately suspended on the last day of the program. Despite this delayed response, the judges held that no reasonable jury could find the school’s actions indifferent, and that it was “entirely reasonable” for the school to refrain from disciplinary action if they thought the harasser might sue them.

In Doe v. Purdue University, Seventh Circuit Judge Barrett authored a panel decision that made it easier for students who are held accountable for sexual assault to sue their schools for sex discrimination. Indeed, she suggested that a school’s commitment to taking sexual misconduct seriously is evidence of sex discrimination against men.

In P.F. v. Taylor, Seventh Circuit Judge Barrett joined a decision ruling that a Wisconsin open enrollment program, which allows school districts to deny applications from students with disabilities based on the “actual attributes of [their] handicap,” was not discrimination based on disability. The decision held that a school district may deny education access on the basis of a student’s disability. As the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network pointed out, the “decision is wholly contrary to the purpose of disability discrimination laws, which mandate the inclusion of people with disabilities – even when [they] have support needs.”

In Lee et. al v. Macon County Board of Education, Alabama district court judge Annemarie Marie Axon ended a 48-year-old school desegregation order against Calhoun County schools that had been in place since 1971.

In Doe v. Oberlin College, Sixth Circuit judge Chad Readler joined an opinion stating that Oberlin College discriminated against a male student through anti-male bias when it found him guilty of sexual assault based on complaints from a female student.

In Doe v. Baum, Sixth Circuit judge Amul Thapar contrary to other courts that have addressed the issue, that due process requires parties to be cross-examined in university proceedings established to address incidents of sexual assault. Moreover, Thapar allowed the named perpetrator to bring a Title IX claim against the school on the grounds that the proceedings were “anti-male” and demonstrated “gender-bias.”

In Deweese Ex. Rel. M.D. v. Bowling Green Independent School District, Sixth Circuit judge Amul Thapar ruled against a teenage girl who was sexually assaulted by an older classmate, allowing her assailant to transfer back to her school. Thapar minimized the trauma she endured, claiming, “While we wish we lived in a world where schools could prevent the kind of discomfort [she] suffered, we do not.”

In Kollaritsch v. Michigan State University Board of Trustees, Sixth Circuit judge Amul Thapar voted to reverse a lower court’s decision to allow four victims of sexual assault to bring claims against Michigan State University after their perpetrators were allowed to remain on campus.

Although not in the majority, in Gary B. v. Whitmer, Sixth Circuit judge Eric Murphy argued against a finding that that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause protects a fundamental right to a “basic minimum education” that is potentially violated when the state fails to provide adequate public schools and foundational literacy. The case involved students at several of Detroit’s worst-performing public schools, which had missing or unqualified teachers, physically dangerous facilities, and inadequate books and materials. When the case was reconsidered en banc, Trump Sixth Circuit judges Amul Thapar, John Bush, Joan Larsen, John Nalbandian, Chad Readler, and Eric Murphy all voted to reverse the decision.

In Williams v. Reeves, Fifth Circuit judges James Ho, Don Willett, Kyle Duncan, Andrew Oldham, and Cory Wilson would have dismissed a lawsuit arguing that a change to the Mississippi state constitution disposing of the requirement that the state maintain a “uniform” public education system was unlawful. A 3-judge panel had previously held that the change violated the Readmission Act, which prohibits Mississippi from amending its constitution to deprive certain people of state constitutional rights. In the absence of the uniformity requirement, reading and math proficiency at underfunded majority-Black schools was only 11 percent, as opposed to 65 percent at majority-white schools with better facilities and resources. Nevertheless, the Trump judges would have dismissed the case, arguing that the state was immune from suit under sovereign immunity grounds, despite the implication of federal law.


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