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Betsy DeVos Watch: Adding another anti-civil rights lawyer to the Dept. of Education

April 24, 2018

Last Wednesday, Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, announced the confirmation of Carlos G. Muñiz as the Education Department’s General Counsel. In a statement that DeVos released, she said: 

We are pleased to finally have Carlos on the team. After a protracted confirmation process, Carlos can at last get to work on behalf of our nation’s students. He has dedicated his career to upholding the law, and his insight and expertise will be invaluable as we work to advance educational opportunities for all students.

As a lawyer, Muniz is currently a partner with McGuireWoods LLP and a senior vice president in the National & Multistate Strategies group of McGuireWoods Consulting LLC. Muniz previously worked as Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s chief of staff for three years, between 2011 and 2014. During his time in that capacity, Muniz represented Florida State University in a lawsuit brought by a student who accused the former quarterback Jameis Winston of raping her in 2012. That case was settled with the accuser for $950,000, but the Office of Civil Rights opened an investigation after it was discovered that the university barely investigated the rape case.

In addition, Carlos Muniz helped to defend the Florida Attorney General’s decision to sit out legal action against Trump University, a controversial real estate seminar owned by Donald Trump.

As General Council to the Department of Education, Muniz will decide which school legal battles to pursue. The Department of Education has already come under fire, because Secretary Betsy DeVos has already said that she will limit the amount of civil rights cases her department will hear. DeVos has also made it clear that Title IX cases will be treated differently, since she has chosen to bring in several Men’s Rights groups who claim that there are plenty of cases on college campuses where women are falsely accusing men of rape. 

Betsy DeVos has also diminished the Department of Education’s role in defending the rights of LGBT students, students with disabilities and students of color. Bringing in Muniz, is just one more confirmation of the Department of Education’s lack of commitment to civil rights issues within education.

Lastly, Muniz is part of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, a conservative Libertarian group, which receives funding from numerous large right wing foundations, supports the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and is a member of the State Policy Network. Both ALEC and the State Policy Network work at the state level to push a right wing agenda, which includes the privatization of education, which Betsy DeVos supports.

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