WASHINGTON – Nineteen states, multiple Christian colleges, and numerous advocacy groups have submitted friend-of-the-court briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to take the case of a Missouri Christian college required by the Biden administration to open its dormitories, including dorm rooms and shared shower spaces, to members of the opposite sex or face fines of up to six figures, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing College of the Ozarks asked the high court to review a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit that concluded the Christian college cannot sue the Biden administration for seeking to force the school to violate its religious beliefs.
“College of the Ozarks should be free to follow the religious tradition on which it was founded and young women should not be forced to share private spaces with men. The government can’t strip a faith-based institution of its constitutionally protected freedoms because it disagrees with its views about marriage and sexuality,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch. “Nineteen states, Christian colleges, and organizations have rallied in support of College of the Ozarks’ ability to bring a legal challenge to protect its freedom to operate its school according to its religious beliefs. We hope the Supreme Court will take this case to allow religious institutions to challenge this inappropriate order so they can respect the privacy, dignity, and safety of their students.”
The lawsuit, College of the Ozarks v. Biden, challenges a U.S. Housing and Urban Development directive and the executive order requiring it. The order, issued to all federal agencies, requires them to redefine sex discrimination in all federal statutes to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” The lawsuit explains that the HUD directive contradicts the clear wording, meaning, and historical interpretation of the Fair Housing Act, which confirms that “sex” means biological sex. The lower courts ruled that College of the Ozarks cannot challenge the order in court, but the college’s petition asks the Supreme Court to reaffirm the right, recognized by other appeals courts, to challenge the federal government in court when it mandates citizens’ behavior and refuses to allow the public to comment on that mandate in advance.
A brief led by the state of Missouri and joined by 18 other states explains that, “this case involves an expansion of federal power and the federal government’s outright failure to address, let alone balance, antidiscrimination policy and interests with religious beliefs. The Amici States enforce antidiscrimination statutes while at the same time ‘ensur[ing] that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.’”
“The government directive here compels College of the Ozarks to change its dorm policies and violate its sincerely held religious conscience. In doing so, it directly threatens, indeed destroys, [the college’s] ability to preserve its identity as a Christian college. By its very design, the right to notice and comment protects against this threatened interest of the college. The government’s depriving [the college] of its procedural right to notice and comment, therefore, constitutes an injury in fact sufficient for standing,” the Association of Christian Schools and Wagner Faith & Freedom Center wrote in its brief.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.
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