Fighting for Women's Equality

WH Defense Of Rob Porter and Trump’s Dismissal Of Domestic Abuse Survivors Bolsters Lawsuit Against DeVos

February 23, 2018 | by

Friday, February 23, 2018

White House Defense Of Rob Porter And Trump’s Dismissal Of Domestic Abuse Survivors Bolsters Lawsuit Against DeVos For Rolling Back Protections For Survivors of Sexual Violence

Original Suit Against DeVos Alleged That Trump Administration Disregards Abuse Reported by Women Survivors – Rob Porter Incident Strengthens Legal Argument

Washington, D.C. — A coalition of advocacy and public interest organizations amended their  suit challenging the Trump administration’s rollback of Title IX protections for survivors of sexual violence, alleging that the Trump White House’s handling of the documented abuse allegations against former senior staffer, Rob Porter, and statements by President Trump dismissing the claims of abuse survivors is additional evidence supporting the suit’s argument that the Trump administration does not believe women’s claims of abuse and harassment.

“The Trump Administration’s animus towards women gives license to and encourages Executive branch decision makers who share the same discriminatory views to perpetuate those views in their work,” the groups assert in the new filing.

The original suit, filed on behalf of plaintiffs SurvJustice, Equal Rights Advocates, and Victim Rights Law Center by three national public interest organizationsDemocracy Forward, the National Center for Youth Law, and the National Women’s Law Centerargued that the Trump Administration’s Title IX policy is unlawfully based on government officials’ discriminatory stereotypes about the credibility of women and girls who report abuse. The suit further alleges that the Administration’s Title IX policy has had a chilling effect on student survivors reporting abuse.

In the new filing submitted earlier this week, plaintiffs SurvJustice, Equal Rights Advocates, and Victim Rights Law Center assert that by doubting domestic abuse survivors and elevating multiple White House staff members accused of violence against women, the Trump Administration has further exhibited an unconstitutional bias against female survivors of sexual violence.

The Administration’s extreme new Title IX guidance has had an immediate impact on college campuses nationwide, including in South Dakota, Texas and Michigan, the amended complaint alleges. For example, the University of Michigan has changed its Title IX policy to allow mediation between an accused student and a survivor in cases of sexual assault— a process that avoids accountability and can be traumatic for many survivors and lead to unjust outcomes.  The complaint further alleges that numerous schools have also modified their policies in ways that may result in delays and untimely redress of reports of sexual violence.

The groups filed suit in January 2018 to stop the Trump Administration’s new and extreme Title IX policy and reinstate protections for student survivors. The amended complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.


Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.

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