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Supreme Court Declines Case Involving Amy Coney Barrett

By Christina Davie
April 2, 2024

In a noteworthy legal development, the Supreme Court has refused to hear a case tied to Justice Amy Coney Barrett's previous judicial actions.

The high court sustained a decision that had Justice Amy Coney Barrett's fingerprints from her appellate court days, involving a Purdue University student's lawsuit over an unfair suspension, as Newsweek reports.

The origins of the case trace back to a dispute between a student, known as John Doe, and Purdue University. Doe filed a lawsuit under the pseudonym to challenge a one-year suspension imposed on him following sexual assault allegations, a move that jeopardized his participation in the Navy ROTC program.

A Closer Look at the Case Background

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, with Barrett as a member, took a stand on this matter in 2019. Their decision favored Doe, pointing out violations of due process and gender discrimination under Title IX, a federal law designed to prevent sex-based discrimination in education.

Barrett, writing for the appellate court, raised the possibility of gender bias in the university's decision-making process. She suggested that the investigative panel might have sided with the female accuser over Doe simply because of gender.

This Monday, the Supreme Court opted out of reviewing the case, adhering to the appellate court's ruling without Barrett's participation, as she was directly involved in the prior proceedings.

Insights Into the Supreme Court's Decision

The refusal by the Supreme Court to take up the case is not an explicit endorsement of Barrett's earlier judgment. Alex Badas, a specialist in judicial politics, clarified that such denials are influenced by various factors and do not necessarily reflect the justices' agreement with the appellate court's decisions.

Barrett's absence in the Supreme Court's deliberations is attributed to her prior involvement with the case. This is a common practice among justices to prevent conflicts of interest, though Badas highlighted recent trends in recusal justifications varying between justices of different ideological leanings.

When Barrett was nominated to the Supreme Court, her ruling in Doe v. Purdue was heavily scrutinized for insights into her judicial philosophy regarding gender discrimination and sexual assault cases.

Public and Legal Reaction to the Ruling

Critics and supporters of Barrett have debated the implications of her appellate court ruling. Legal commentators and advocacy groups have flagged the decision as troubling, suggesting it could be a misapplication of sex discrimination statutes.

Despite the appellate court overturning the lower court's dismissal of Doe's claims, it did not require the district court judge to be recused for the remanded case. This aspect of the ruling has stirred discussions in legal circles.

The case is now set to proceed under a judge assigned by Joshua Kolar, an appeals court judge and former colleague of Barrett on the case, following the Supreme Court's denial to hear the appeal.

Continued Debate and Legal Implications

John Doe's legal representation expressed disappointment with the Supreme Court's decision not to grant certiorari. Attorney Philip Byler criticized the decision, suggesting it ignored significant issues of alleged corruption within the judicial review process.

Barrett's opinion in the appellate court and the subsequent denial of certiorari by the Supreme Court underline the complexities of navigating gender discrimination and due process claims in educational settings. This case adds another layer to the ongoing discussions about fairness and equality in university disciplinary actions.

As the legal journey of Doe v. Purdue continues, its implications for Title IX disputes and the broader judicial landscape remain a focal point of interest among legal professionals, educators, and civil rights advocates.

Conclusion: A Case of Lasting Significance

In conclusion, the Supreme Court's decision to not review the case involving Justice Amy Coney Barrett and Purdue University leaves in place a significant appellate court ruling.

This case, stemming from allegations of gender bias and due process violations, highlights the ongoing debate over Title IX's application and the judicial system's approach to gender discrimination and sexual assault allegations.

The legal community and educational institutions will undoubtedly continue to watch the developments of this case and its impact on similar future disputes.