It’s hard to believe the Biden administration’s Department of Education would refuse to punish a university for a flagrant violation of Title IX simply because they were confident the victim would prevail in court if they sued. The same would go if a school violated the civil rights of a racial minority or LGBTQ+ student. Everyone would expect the administration to take quick and decisive administrative action without requiring the victim to hire a lawyer and pursue justice in the courts.
So, why should it be any different when an educational institution violates a student’s First Amendment right to freedom of religion? It shouldn’t be, but a recent notice of proposed rulemaking from the Department of Education shows that the Biden administration fails to take threats to religious liberty seriously.
In November 2020, a Department of Education rule went into effect stating that, as a condition of receiving federal funding, “a public institution shall not deny to any student organization whose stated mission is religious in nature and that is at the public institution any right, benefit, or privilege that is otherwise afforded to other student organizations at the public institution… because of the religious student organization’s beliefs, practices, policies, speech, membership standards, or leadership standards, which are informed by sincerely held religious beliefs.”
That seems in line with the First Amendment, but Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education Nassar Paydar says it has “caused confusion” and creates an “unduly burdensome role” for the Department because it must investigate complaints.