Supreme Court declines Christian college's appeal, but the fight is likely to continue
'The Biden administration has repeatedly withdrawn religious protections, and refused to concede religious protections unless they are sued and have to honor religious liberty in court.'
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from the College of the Ozarks, a Christian college in Missouri.
The appeal is in regard to a lawsuit brought against the federal government by the college in 2021.
The college, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), challenged a U.S. Housing and Urban Development directive and executive order that redefines sex discrimination to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” which would require the college to open gendered dormitories, including dorm rooms and shared shower spaces, to individuals of the opposite sex.
ADF Senior Counsel Julie Marie Blake and Chancellor of the College of the Ozarks Dr. Jerry Davis explained the lawsuit details in a NewsMax appearance, saying that the Biden rule violates “commonsense.”
“The directive was issued in February of 2021, three weeks after the President took office, and it said it applied to every housing provider in the nation,” ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman explained to Campus Reform.
ADF argues that the federal government cannot violate the college’s religious beliefs and that young women should not be forced to share private spaces with men.
In the initial directive, Bowman explains further, “there was no exception for religious colleges.”
It was not “until [ADF] sued based on a plain reading of the words in the directive, that it applies to everybody, that they started saying, well, maybe it won’t apply to religious schools ... and it was only because we sued that two and a half years later, they haven’t enforced it against religious schools.”
Lower courts ruled in favor of the federal government, stating that the College of the Ozarks lacked the legal standing to sue because the Biden administration did not file an anti-discrimination complaint against the college.
The college appealed to the Supreme Court, however, claiming that the Biden administration had prevented it from providing input on the policy prior to the policy’s implementation, an argument that had been previously dismissed by the lower courts.
Bowman told Campus Reform that the Supreme Court denied the appeal, “narrowly [rulling] that religious colleges cannot sue over [the] mandate until sometime later.”
ADF is expecting additional legal battles regarding the 2021 housing directive, predicting that the Biden administration will at some point force religious colleges to adhere to it.
“The Biden administration has repeatedly withdrawn religious protections, and refused to concede religious protections unless they are sued and have to honor religious liberty in court. So there’s no reason to believe they would change that approach, and voluntarily protect religious freedom when their political base demands a radical agenda on gender identity,” Bowman said.
For now, Bowman says the college is upholding its religious principles:
The college is going to continue to adhere to its religious beliefs and protect the women who attend by maintaining their dorm policies. What the court rulings were based on was the federal government’s lawyers, convincing some judges that the mandate might not be applied against religious colleges, and that we have to wait and see. So based on that argument, which was not contained at all in the original mandate, the dismissal orders said the schools can’t sue yet. But they also implied that schools don’t have to comply. And so religious schools should continue to follow their beliefs, not the edict of government bureaucrats that violate those beliefs.
The fight between those who seek to protect religious exemptions and those who push the Biden administration’s gender identity agenda is expected to continue.
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