Obama policy proposals may be fueling spike in school rapes

Obama policy proposals may be fueling spike in school rapes
Mayor Bill de Blasio (Image: nyc.gov)

Ironically, even as the Obama administration seeks to create alarm about a non-existent rape “epidemic” on college campuses — where rape rates have been falling for years —  its own policies may be causing more rapes in the nation’s high schools. Forcible sex offenses are up 90%, and serious assaults are up 69%, in the New York City schools after Mayor de Blasio implemented the Obama administration’s favored policy of replacing suspensions with “restorative justice” – a kind of talk therapy  — even for serious offenses such as fighting, arson, and assault. That’s discussed in a recent New York Post op-ed by former New York Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey.

De Blasio implemented this perverse policy partly to reduce “disparate impact” in school discipline. “Disparate impact” is when a colorblind school rule is violated by more black offenders than white offenders, and the rule is viewed as unnecessary by civil-rights bureaucrats.

Ignoring a Supreme Court ruling, the Obama Education Departments says “disparate impact” is banned by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, even though the Supreme Court ruled to the contrary in Alexander v. Sandoval (2001). But that was a 5-to-4 ruling where Justice Antonin Scalia, who just died, had provided the deciding vote, so the Obama administration may now think it can flout that ruling with even more impunity than before.  The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) was recently given a 7% budget increase, even though OCR has systematically disregarded the Supreme Court’s Sandoval decision during the Obama administration, as Gail Heriot and Peter Kirsanow, members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, have noted. The Obama administration is proposing that OCR get an additional 28% budget increase so it can step up its attacks on colorblind school discipline in high schools, and also its attacks on college students’ due process rights.

The Obama administration has forced school districts to enter into consent decrees containing race-based targets to prevent school officials from disciplining more minority than white students, even if that just reflects the fact that more minority students violated school rules, and even though that violates a federal appeals court ruling.  A federal appeals court ruled in People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education (1997) that schools cannot use racial caps or proportions in discipline, striking down a rule that forbade a “school district to refer a higher percentage of minority students than of white students for discipline” as a veiled racial quota. And a 2014 study in the Journal of Criminal Justice by criminologists like John Paul Wright found that higher black suspension rates are “completely” due to higher rates of misbehavior among black students.

Justice Scalia’s recent death and replacement by a more left-leaning justice may enable the federal Justice and Education Departments to thwart suspensions of some menacing and disruptive minority students who harm their peers, and also enable the Justice Department to undermine local police departments that engage in proactive policing designed to quell violent crime.

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. Hans also writes for CNS News and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.”


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