The U.S. Department of Education ended its reconsideration of Title IX in July without making any changes to the 30-year old legislation, signaling a major victory for women’s rights advocates on the controversial issue.
The decision came after a federal judge in Washington rejected the claims of a lawsuit filed against Title IX, issuing a 119-page ruling in June that said that the lawsuit “failed to show the harmful effects of Title IX.”
U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan wrote that the National Wrestling Coaches Association and four other groups who filed the lawsuit “failed to meet their burden of persuasion on the question of whether they are the proper parties to be asserting the claims they raise.”
While the NWCA maintained that programs such as men’s wrestling, swimming, gymnastics and lacrosse have been cut to make room for more women’s sports to comply with Title IX, Sullivan decided that had not been proven.
NWCA attorney Lawerence Joseph responded to the ruling in the Washington Post by saying, “The war is far from over – the plaintiffs will either appeal to the court of appeals or seek the district court’s reconsideration.”
Marcia D. Greenberger, president of the National Women’s Law Center, however, told the Post that the ruling “totally put to rest the argument that men’s teams are being hurt by Title IX, and chances are slim of any changes being made to Title IX.”
Such chances were diminished further in early July, as the Department of Education affirmed that all aspects of Title IX will continue to be enforced. After the lawsuit was filed in 2002, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige placed Title IX under the review of the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics to reevaluate the fairness of the law.
That commission took 23 recommendations from members of the panel on ways to improve equality in collegiate athletics after the NWCA argued that 355 men’s college athletic teams had been cut. But the Department of Education’s ended speculation that the law would be weakened anytime in the near future.
-Jeff Nelson contributed to this report.