Brown v. State of Arizona
This is an appeal concerning the scope of schools’ Title IX responsibilities regarding gender violence that occurs between students off campus. Mackenzie Brown, a student at the University of Arizona, was viciously abused by her classmate Orlando Bradford, a football player. The violence was preventable: By the time Bradford began abusing Mackenzie, the University already knew that Bradford had abused two other female students. Yet administrators did nothing to protect other students, including Mackenzie, from future violence at Bradford’s hands. To the contrary, the football team had given Bradford special permission to move off campus, a privilege dependent on players’ good behavior.
Mackenzie filed a Title IX lawsuit against the University, alleging that its deliberate indifference to Bradford’s pattern of violence against women had allowed him to abuse her. The district court granted summary judgment to the school on the basis that Bradford’s violence toward Mackenzie occurred in the off-campus house he shared with teammates – even though the University exerted significant control over Bradford and his residence.
Over the forceful dissent of Judge Fletcher, a Ninth Circuit panel affirmed the district court’s ruling on January 25, 2022. Public Justice and co-counsel All Rise Trial & Appellate joined the case to draft the petition for rehearing or rehearing en banc. The United States filed an amicus brief in support of the petition, as did a coalition of 32 organizations led by the National Women’s Law Center.
On December 9, 2022, the Ninth Circuit granted the petition for rehearing en banc and vacated the panel opinion. A group of law professors filed an amicus brief in support of Mackenzie on the merits, and the parties submitted supplemental briefing. The Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, heard oral argument in the case on March 21, 2023.