Washington D.C. lawyer Hans Bader explains at College Insurrection blog.
Suing schools and colleges has nothing to do with supporting our troops.
But that didn’t stop Senators from seeking to add an amendment, SA 3215, to the 2013 Defense Authorization bill on Thursday, containing provisions that would overturn two Supreme Court rulings in order to promote such lawsuits. The amendment, proposed by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), would dramatically expand the reach of two federal statutes, Title VI and Title IX, to allow colleges, schools, and recipients of federal funds to be sued for “disparate impact.”
Disparate impact is what people call school policies that have no motive to discriminate, but end up affecting some groups more than others. For example, standardized tests for mathematics have nothing to do with race, but some racial groups perform better than others. The Democrats think that this is grounds for a lawsuit, apparently.
The amendment, backed by trial lawyers, would also allow colleges, schools, and other institutions to be sued for unlimited punitive damages.
[…]The specter of liability for disparate impact could make schools get rid of standardized tests designed to ensure that students are really learning, and detect failing schools, since all but the easiest standardized tests arguably have a racially “disparate impact.”
It could also result in racial quotas in school discipline. The Obama Administration has alreadypressured some school districts to adopt de facto racial quotas in school discipline (school districts are reluctant to defy the Administration’s legally-dubious demands lest it cut off their federal funds), requiring even liberal school districts that already bend over backwards not to suspend disruptive black students to cut their suspension rates, and spend millions of dollars to comply with bureaucratic dictates imposed by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, where I used to work.
[…]Expanding Title VI liability and punitive damages could also lead to more campus speech codes, as colleges, terrified of racial harassment liability under Title VI, clamp down on any speech that might conceivably contribute to what is perceived as a racially hostile learning environment.
Hans explains why these laws cause schools and universities to create “speech codes”:
But schools persist in imposing overbroad harassment policies, both because they would rather be sued for First Amendment violations than for racial or sexual harassment… and because private colleges are not directly subject to the First Amendment at all, but can be sued for racial and sexual harassment.
[…][T]o avoid liability, private colleges in particular may clamp down on campus speech about racial and sexual issues like affirmative action and feminism, lest such speech provide potential “building blocks” of a hostile environment claim under the “totality of circumstances” test.
Trial lawyers are one of the groups that donate a lot of money to Democrats, so naturally they will be happy with any law that makes more business for them.