Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Moronic Public Scold

Last week the President of Catholic University announced that the University would revert to single sex dormitories.   In an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, John Garvey discussed the decision to change their housing arrangements and explained that based on evidence that this might lead to some positive consequences.   The President mentioned that there is a high correlation between binge drinking and "hooking up" and that both seem to be related to proximity created by the current dorm situation.   While he did not mention it, there are plenty of instances of Catholic doctrine which would encourage such a change.  For example, Garvey quotes a study from a Loyola Marymount professor that suggests a"surprising number of studies showing that students in co-ed dorms (41.5%) report weekly binge drinking more than twice as often as students in single-sex housing (17.6%). Similarly, students in co-ed housing are more likely (55.7%) than students in single-sex dorms (36.8%) to have had a sexual partner in the last year—and more than twice as likely to have had three or more."

This morning in Inside Higher Education, we find that a George Washington University Law Professor, John Banzhaf, has announced his intention to sue Catholic University for a potential violation of the District of Columbia Civil Rights Act, under the bizarre legal theory of discrimination on the basis of sex.  Banzhaf commented that he saw this change as akin to the doctrine espoused in Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 case which led to an almost 50 year affirmation of Jim Crow laws.   The analogy is a tortured one.   In Plessy the Justices ruled that it was OK for a Louisiana railroad company to provide separate rail cars based on race.   In the case of a university students who do not agree with the dormitory policy have the option of attending another university or in living off campus.  I guess the professor could also argue that his University discriminates on the basis of sex because they offer no football program.

Banzhaf has been an activist plaintiffs lawyer for a long time.  I first heard about him when he joined in on suing tobacco companies.  About the time I was in Washington, D.C. he was suing to get radio stations to provide PSAs against smoking advertising.   But his quests have been far reaching and have included a whole series of other "environmental" causes including a series of suits to control the sale of fast foods.

Evidently the professor has not bothered to read up much on Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act or even on the First Amendment.   The DC Civil Rights Law has run roughshod over the First Amendment for a long time, so Mr. Banzhaf may have a case.   Let's hope he does not.  Catholic University is a Papal University, one of several around the world that was founded directly from Papal Authority.   Among the resources that the University offers is a superb research tool on the law of higher education.   Did I mention that the name of the place is Catholic University?   Evidently, professor Banzhaf doesn't think that is important.  But in this instance, the professor should respect the right of a Catholic university to determine how its inspiration will be applied.

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