As students across the country headed back to school this month, Public Justice joined our allies in the fight to ensure the safety and protection of students everywhere.
This fall, with the return of in-person classes and campus life, students are entering what many advocacy experts have dubbed as the "Double Red Zone" — the time between the beginning of school and Thanksgiving break, in which more than 50 percent of all sexual assaults will occur. It's especially concerning for incoming sophomores, in which many have spent the previous year at home — and like freshmen — are setting foot on campus for the very first time.

Recently, our Alexandra Brodsky spoke with The Lily regarding the Double Red Zone and why students need a Title IX rule that actually protects and supports them: “For many students, the difference between them staying in school and dropping out is the provision of support services."

Title IX protections that support the rights of students are more important than ever. In March, we made this clear when we filed a lawsuit against the Department of Education on behalf of the Women's Student Union at Berkely High School in California, alleging that the 2020 regulations adopted under former Secretary Betsy DeVos put students in greater danger. On the same day we filed the lawsuit, President Biden signed an executive order directing the Education Department to review the rules. However, this month, the department announced that it doesn't plan to release changes to the Trump-era rules until May 2022. This timeline is troubling since the Trump changes to the Title IX rule didn't become law until 21 months after it was proposed. If the department follows a similar timeline, a new Title IX rule will not take effect until February 2024. Students can't wait that long.

As part of our ongoing advocacy in holding government institutions accountable when they fail to do their job, we took part in Know Your IX's Ed Act Now campaign, urging Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to swiftly undo the Trump Administration's Title IX regulations by October 2021 instead of waiting until next year. Since the launch of the campaign, we've been joined by more than 50,000 petitioners. And next month, we plan on delivering every single petition to the Department of Education, so our voices can be heard loud and clear. Too many survivors are being denied the most basic protections by their school, and the time for the Department of Education to act is now. We're proud to join our allies and continue our fight on behalf of students in California — and beyond.
As always, we couldn't advocate for students' rights or make significant advances in our other important work without you. Thank you for your ongoing support and allyship in the fight as we head into this new season of exciting and meaningful change. Check out below some of our latest updates, case wins, and successes!
This month, in a closed-door meeting, Virginia's Fairfax County School Board voted to appeal our client's Title IX case to the U.S. Supreme Court. A bad ruling from the Supreme Court would do more than end our client’s case. FCSB wants SCOTUS to radically undermine Title IX protections for student survivors across the country.

By changing its position and arguing that a student must be assaulted multiple times before a school can be held liable — a “one free rape rule” — FCSB clearly seeks to undermine protections for students everywhere. Its appeal only confirms this.

In response, we took to Twitter in order to drum up attention, alerting parents and teachers in Fairfax County of this threat to the civil rights and safety of current and future students everywhere.

Our case is on behalf of Jane Doe who was sexually assaulted on a school trip. Our lawsuit against the Fairfax County School Board alleges that Fairfax County Public Schools — the 10th largest school division in the country — violated Doe's Title IX rights by failing to take meaningful action to protect her education.

Our client Jane Doe deserves to have her voice heard at a new trial. FCSB’s fight to stop a jury from hearing her story holds grave implications for students not just in Fairfax County but across the country. For more information on the case, Doe v. Fairfax County School Board, visit our case webpage below.
This month, the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled in our favor by allowing our false advertising lawsuit against Hormel Foods to go back to the trial court.

In ALDF v. Hormel, our client the Animal Legal Defense Fund brought claims in the D.C. court under the D.C. consumer-protection statute alleging that Hormel’s advertising of its factory-farmed Natural Choice line of lunchmeats is deceptive and misleading.

The D.C. Court of Appeals held — for the first time — that D.C. consumer-protection statute allows public interest organizations to bring claims on behalf of consumers without having to demonstrate Article III standing or that a particular consumer was misled. This is big news. ALDF can now continue its fight in holding Hormel accountable for advertising its meat as "natural" and lying to consumers.

Our Leah Nicholls recently spoke to Meat + Poultry on our exciting win: “[The] ruling not only affirms that this lawsuit to stop egregious false advertising by Hormel can continue, it will benefit consumers and the integrity of the market on a wide range of issues [...] The D.C. Court of Appeals rightly notes that any qualifying advocacy nonprofit can use the district’s consumer protection statutes to stop misleading advertising campaigns on behalf of the District’s citizens, even if the content of a product’s label is judged to be preempted by federal regulation.”
This month, the U.S. and European Union signed an agreement to reduce their methane emissions by 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030.

However, regulating methane emissions within the agricultural sector was noticeably missing in the pledge. Instead, the agreement included support for mitigation efforts relying upon technology-based "solutions," including factory farm gas (branded "biogas" by Big Ag and Big Oil & Gas).

In response, we joined the 25 climate, environmental justice, and rural community groups who signed our April climate petition to release a statement, recognizing the agreement as a "positive if insufficient step," while urging the Biden Administration to reject factory farm gas as a means of reducing methane.

Investing in factory farm gas is a "scheme to further entrench the factory farm system at the expense of the air, land, and water of Black, Latino, Indigenous, and white rural communities."

Read our full press release here or click the button below.
This month, our Senior Attorney Karla Gilbride wrote a blog post about an exciting appellate victory from earlier in the summer in a case against rental car company, Sixt Rent-A-Car. The case arose when a car belonging to Sixt was reserved online through Orbitz. A dispute later occurred between the renter and Sixt, in which Sixt tried to compel the dispute into arbitration using Orbitz's terms of use.

Thankfully, the Eleventh Circuit rejected Sixt's arguments and affirmed the district court's denial of the motion to compel arbitration. The Eleventh Circuit’s opinion in the case is particularly noteworthy because it finds that the dispute in question was not even covered by the Federal Arbitration Act because it did not “arise out of” the contract that had an arbitration clause in it. Through cases like these, we hope lawyers will be able to use the same argument to limit the reach of arbitration.

"We hope those who are tempted to take advantage of the arbitration clauses of others will instead choose to proceed with caution and stay in their lane," Gilbride writes. Read the full blog here or by clicking the button below.
Late this month, the court dismissed our case on behalf of survivors of sexual assault seeking justice and accountability from the Ohio State University for its decades of enabling and concealing abuse by longtime OSU employee Dr. Richard Strauss.

We are deeply disappointed and upset by this ruling. However, our fight isn't over. Following the release of the court's decision, we joined the legal team in the case to announce that we intend to appeal the court's ruling and continue our fight to obtain justice for every single one of our survivors.

"OSU spent decades denying, hiding, and evading the truth about its role in concealing the abuse that happened on its watch. [The] ruling punishes survivors already traumatized by the university’s callous campaign of deception. The court’s decision cannot, and must not, be the final word in the survivors’ journey towards justice."

View our full press release and statement here and below.
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