Chris Lange, FISM News
A Missouri Christian college has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene to protect its religious freedom against the Biden administration’s radical gender ideology policies.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys representing College of the Ozarks asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to review a decision by the 8th District U.S. Court of Appeals that prohibited the school from suing the Biden administration for enforcing gender LGBTQ policies that violate the college’s religious beliefs.
At issue is a directive from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that would require the college to reverse its gender-based housing policies, essentially forcing students to share dorm rooms and shower spaces with individuals of the opposite sex who claim alternate gender identities, according to a press release.
“We hope the Supreme Court will take this case to halt the government’s inappropriate order targeting religious institutions and to respect the privacy, dignity, and safety of female students,” the school said.
The HUD directive would also subject those who violate the order to “fines up to six figures, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees,” per the release.
“College of the Ozarks should be free to follow the religious tradition on which it was founded. The government can’t strip a private, faith-based institution of its constitutionally protected freedoms because it disagrees with its views about marriage and sexuality,” ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch said in a statement quoted in the release.
DISSENTING JUDGE: COLLEGE WAS DENIED RIGHT TO NOTICE, COMMENT
Eighth Circuit Judge L. Steven Grasz wrote in his dissenting opinion that the 8th Circuit’s majority holding “overlooks an injury the College has already suffered — the deprivation of its right to notice and comment.” Grasz pointed out that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) “requires notice and comment for ‘all rules’ under its purview — including interpretative rules.”
Grasz noted earlier in his opinion that “[a]n agency’s issuance of a guidance document that fails to adhere to the proper administrative procedures may achieve compliance with the government’s desired policy outcomes … but it skirts the rule of law and undermines our values. This is especially true where regulated entities are placed under a sword of Damocles but are denied access to the courts because the sword has not yet fallen.”
ADF has launched a petition on behalf of the College of the Ozarks, asking supporters to sign a statement in support of the school’s First Amendment protections.
“In just over two years on the job, President Biden has spared no effort in attempting to insert a radical gender identity ideology into federal policy. Even if that means disregarding religious freedom — and common sense,” the Christian legal advocacy group said.