NBC News Exclusive: AG Bill Barr Blurbed a Book One Time

The book argued Obama-era directives led colleges to tar innocent men as rapists

Attorney General William Barr / Getty Images
September 19, 2019

NBC News reported that, two years before he became attorney general, William Barr positively reviewed a book supporting due process protections for college students accused of sexual misconduct, a view he also espoused publicly during his confirmation hearing.

"Before being nominated by President Donald Trump to be attorney general, William Barr strongly endorsed a 2017 book accusing colleges and universities of unfairly punishing male students accused of rape," NBC reported on Thursday.

Barr provided a blurb for the book The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America's Universities by KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor. The book argues that there is scant evidence of a campus rape epidemic, the low evidentiary standards in university proceedings unfairly tar innocent men as rapists, and political correctness and Obama administration edicts made the situation worse.

"In this masterful account, Johnson and Taylor examine in detail how President Obama's Education Department―promulgating regulations beyond its statutory authority, invoking erroneous data, and fanning the false narrative of a 'rape culture' on college campuses―has created a regime of kangaroo justice," Barr wrote. "Male students accused of sexual misconduct are found guilty, and their lives destroyed, by campus panels operating without any semblance of due process and all too frequently on the basis of grossly inadequate information. Your blood will boil as the authors meticulously examine scores of cases where, in the name of political correctness, male students are sacrificed to the mob, with academic leaders happily serving as the hangmen."

Barr's praise was well in line with criticism of universities from Republican lawmakers and conservative, liberal, and civil libertarian law professors. Johnson and Taylor's book was also positively blurbed by Nadine Strossen, a feminist New York Law School professor who served as president of the ACLU for 17 years.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee told NBC they were not aware of the blurb during Barr's confirmation and would have liked the opportunity to question him about it. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) said that while due process was a valid concern, Barr's comments were "way over the top."

Barr, however, did address the subject during his confirmation hearing. He told the committee about his opposition to the Obama-era "Dear Colleague" letter that threatened to withhold federal funding from schools that did not lower the due process standards in Title IX hearings.

"The rules that were forced on universities in handling sexual harassment cases … I felt essentially did away with due process," he said. "As a father of three daughters, I take very seriously any question of sexual harassment, it's a serious problem. The word of a victim has to be taken very seriously and it has to be pursued, but we can't do it at the expense of the Bill of Rights or basic fairness and due process."