U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says more should be done to defend the due process rights of college students accused of sexual misconduct, saying “everyone deserves a fair hearing.”
In an interview with The Atlantic, Justice Ginsburg said she’s concerned about campus adjudication processes that take basic due process protections, such as the presumption of innocence, access to exculpatory evidence and the right to cross-examine one’s accuser, away from students.
“The person who is accused has a right to defend herself or himself, and we certainly should not lose sight of that,” Justice Ginsburg said. “Recognizing that these are complaints that should be heard. There’s been criticism of some college codes of conduct for not giving the accused person a fair opportunity to be heard, and that’s one of the basic tenets of our system, as you know, everyone deserves a fair hearing.”
Asked whether criticisms of college adjudication processes are valid, Justice Ginsburg responded, “Do I think they are? Yes.”
She said the choice between due process and gender equality is a false one.
“It’s not one or the other. It’s both,” Justice Ginsburg said. “We have a system of justice where people who are accused get due process, so it’s just applying to this field what we have applied generally.”
Justice Ginsburg, 84, has long been a liberal stalwart on the highest court in the land, but that hasn’t stopped her from occasionally voicing opinions that offend her ideological allies.
She recently called former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest “dumb” and “disrespectful” — although she later apologized, after her remarks were widely condemned on the left.
In the wide-ranging interview with The Atlantic, Justice Ginsburg also opined on the “Me Too” movement, sharing her own story of being sexually harassed by a teaching assistant at Cornell. She said that experience taught her that women should not be afraid to call out bad behavior when they see it.
“Say this is bad behavior,” Justice Ginsburg said. “You should not engage in it, and I will not submit to it. But I think it is easier today because there are numbers to support the woman who says so. We no longer hear as often as we did in the past, ‘She’s making it up.’ ”
Justice Ginsburg also advised men to treat women “how you would like the women in your family to be treated, particularly your daughters.”
“And when you see men behaving in ways they should not, you should tell them this is improper behavior.”
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