WSF Responds to American Sports Council’s Latest Lawsuit Challenging Title IX
Frivolous Lawsuit Challenges Title IX…Again.
As the Women’s Sports Foundation begins its year-long celebrations of the 40th anniversary of Title IX that were kicked into high gear by the riveting performances of US Soccer at the World Cup, the American Sports Council (formerly College Sports Council) files yet another lawsuit against the Department of Education, trying to weaken Title IX.
Frivolous lawsuits are not news. The law is clear, and the three-part test at issue has been in force since 1979. It has been applied uniformly to K-12 and colleges and universities across Democratic and Republican administrations. In short, the CSC is attempting to inject alarm and uncertainty into an area where there is none.
How Should Schools Distribute Sports?
Our country was founded on principles of equality, freedom and the rule of law. Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 reflects the nation’s collective aspirational belief that girls and boys, women and men, deserve equality in educational opportunities, including athletics.
Boys’ difficulties getting volleyball sanctioned as a varsity sport are no different from girls’ rugby facing the same problem. When both boys and girls are knocking at the Athletic Director’s door, wanting more sports, Title IX requires that these scarce resources be allocated fairly. Find our long-standing policy on sharing the sports pie here.
The Lawsuit Raises No Novel Legal Issues
The Pacific Legal Foundation raised the same issue in 2008, and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the administrative agency responsible for enforcing Title IX, rejected the issues that are now being raised in the lawsuit; that Title IX does not apply to high school athletics and that it violates the equal protection clause of our Constitution. The OCR letter to the foundation quoted language in the original policy interpretation that specifically refers to high schools, and noted that several courts have already applied Title IX to high schools.
The same arguments were heard by the Fourth Circuit in a case decided earlier this year, Equity In Athletics, Inc. v. Department of Educ., 639 F.3d 91 (4th Cir. 2011). There the court reiterated that Title IX was Constitutional, it did not create quotas, that it was passed and applied fairly. So rest assured, Title IX is alive and well in all school sports, and will not be affected by this lawsuit.