December 20, 2023

ABOR seeks to advance Title IX lawsuit against UA

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan granted a 30 day extension to the board to file a legal petition–the first step to seek an opinion for the high court.

University of Arizona Old Main spot Old Main on the University of Arizona campus
Megan Roxbury, AZPM

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan has granted a 30 day extension to the Arizona Board of Regents to file a petition for writ of certiorari–the first step to seek an opinion for the high court.

Their request would order the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to deliver its case record on Brown vs. the State of Arizona to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to decide whether or not the high court should take it on.

In 2017, Mackenzie Brown filed suit against the university claiming that former UA Wildcats running back Orlando Bradford abused her off campus.

In September, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s ruling in Brown vs. State of Arizona, saying that the University of Arizona can be liable under Title IX for its “deliberate indifference” to sexual harassment cases, even if the harassment takes place off campus.

According to the Ninth Circuit’s opinion, the university knew that Bradford had assaulted other women during his time at UA, beginning in 2015. Bradford served five years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of felony aggravated assault and domestic violence.

The board is looking to reverse the appellate court's decision, saying that the court made its ruling based on an argument brought forward by the judges who heard the case and not by the former UA student, who was the victim.

“The [dissenting judges] also correctly noted that in proceedings before the district court and before the original three-judge panel, Brown never argued that the University controlled Bradford’s off-campus house, instead arguing that she need only show that the University controlled the context of Bradford’s prior abuse of other students,” legal counsel for the board wrote. “The dissenting judges correctly noted that Brown waived this argument, and that it was improper for the court to entertain it.”

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In their request, ABOR also argued that, “Title IX, by its plain terms, applies only to discrimination occurring within a funding recipient’s ‘programs and activities.’” Brown argued the university “violated Title IX by not adequately responding to Bradford’s abuse of two prior girlfriends, who were also students at the University.”

The board requested to extend the deadline because their attorney did not join the case until November and has “been heavily engaged with other appellate matters.”

“The requested extension is necessary to allow appellate counsel to fully familiarize themselves with the record and relevant case law,” the request read.

Kagan approved the extension until Jan. 25, 2024.

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