A conservative legal activist known for defending the women who accused President Bill Clinton of sexual harassment has been tapped to head the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights on a temporary basis.
OCR is the agency that regulates Title IX compliance, and is responsible for the recent effort to compel schools to police sexual assault internally.
Candice Jackson will serve as deputy assistant secretary for civil rights, according to BuzzFeed News. She is a vocal critic of the Clintons and author of the book Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine. She attended the second presidential debate in 2016 alongside Juanita Broaddrick and Paula Jones.
In her book, she described herself as a "libertarian feminist."
BuzzFeed was unable to confirm Jackson's appointment. My sources could not immediately confirm the appointment either.
But Pepperdine University, where Jackson attended law school, released a press release announcing the appointment.
"Candace is intelligent, generous, and energetic," wrote Vice Dean of Pepperdine Law Shelley Saxer. "She will be a great asset to the Department of Education because of her stellar capabilities and her devotion to the public good."
Jackson is technically only the temporary head of OCR until President Trump appoints an actual secretary to run the agency. This person's appointment will be subject to Senate confirmation. Rumor has it that Trump is considering either of the two non-liberal members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Gail Heriot or Peter Kirsanow. The previous OCR boss, Catherine Lhamon, is now a member of the commission. (Disclaimer: I am a member of the D.C. Advisory Committee to the commission.)
A "libertarian feminist" like Jackson might be inclined to reverse OCR's Obama-era Title IX guidance, which encouraged universities to zealously investigate sexual assault while downplaying due process protections for accused students.
Hans Bader, an attorney at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and former OCR lawyer, tells me that Jackson "sounds favorably disposed to free speech, and favorable on the issue of racial and gender preferences." But he notes that it's hard to predict what stances the new OCR will take until a permanent boss is chosen.
My take: I don't know if Jackson is the right person to reform OCR. But reining in the agency should be a top priority for newly minted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.