June 22, 2011 10:57AM

‘Marsupial Justice’ Is a Natural Product of Federal Overreach

Earlier this month I blogged about the U.S. Department of Education’s recent push to eliminate free speech and due process on campus. More and more people are starting to notice this attempt by the department’s Office of Civil Rights to force colleges — by threatening an investigation and loss of federal funds — to redefine sexual harrassment to include unwelcome flirting and sex jokes and then lower the burden of proof they use when determining whether students or staff are guilty of violating the new code of behavior.

And now we have a characteristically astute article by the Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone. Money quote:

Education Secretary Arne Duncan has shown an admirable openness to argument and intellectual debate. Perhaps someone will ask him whether he wants his department to be encouraging kangaroo courts and marsupial justice on campuses across the country.

Unfortunately, this sort of thing doesn’t just take care of itself. Greg Lukianoff and his team at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education have been doing a workmanlike job protecting student and academic freedoms, but at base this policy exposes the sorts of pathologies that emerge from a federal government that has too many tentacles in too many places. 

What is the Department of Education doing setting any sort of standards for speech, conduct, and adjudication of campus disputes — good or bad, strict or lax? Why do we even have a federal Department of Education in the first place?