States sue to block DeVos' campus sexual assault overhaul

FILE - In this March 27, 2020, file photo, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room in Washington. DeVos is pushing ahead with a policy that will steer tens of millions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief to private primary schools and secondary schools across the nation.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
FILE - In this March 27, 2020, file photo, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room in Washington. DeVos is pushing ahead with a policy that will steer tens of millions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief to private primary schools and secondary schools across the nation. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Democratic attorneys general in more than a dozen states filed a federal lawsuit Thursday attempting to block Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' new policy guiding schools and colleges in the handling of sexual assault cases.

The lawsuit alleges that DeVos' policy undercuts existing mandates in Title IX, the 1972 law barring discrimination based on sex in education. It also challenges DeVos' order to implement the rules by Aug. 14, saying the deadline is impracticable during a pandemic.

The case is being led by attorneys general in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California, with backing from a total of 17 states and the District of Columbia.

“Title IX’s mandate is simple: Our schools must give women and men equal access to education, which means no one should experience sexual harassment,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “But instead of making it easier for students to report, and for schools to respond, to sexual harassment, Secretary DeVos has unlawfully narrowed Title IX’s reach.”