Find in this section of the website information on events that are occurring which have affected faith-based organizations and the exercise of their closely-held beliefs.
POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — The Supreme Court declined to hear the case of College of the Ozarks against the Biden administration this week, on June 20.
The case challenges a Biden administration rule that requires the College 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 to challenge this rule. Yesterday, the Supreme Court denied the College’s petition for review, so the 8th circuit decision and the Biden administration’s coercive rule remain in place.
“The Supreme Court left this issue unresolved,” said ADF Senior Counsel Julie Marie Blake. “The Biden admin must be held accountable, and we will continue to confront government overreach. College of the Ozarks brought this challenge for one reason: The Biden administration was attempting to force them to open their dormitories to members of the opposite sex. Though the high court chose not to review this case, we are hopeful it will soon take up related cases—both challenges to the broad overreach of the Biden administration and the government’s repeated attempts to remove from law any real distinctions between males and females. It is wrong to force schools to open girls’ dorms, bedrooms, and shared showers to males, and ADF will do everything in its power to ensure that religious colleges remain free to protect the young women who attend their institutions. No matter what happens next: College of the Ozarks will continue to follow its beliefs.”
The current ruling could jeopardize the College’s ability to function, cause emotional harm to students who rely on the College’s housing policies, and dissuade Christian students from attending the College, the petition filed with the U.S. Supreme Court explains.
“We are committed to defending our religious liberty as a Christian college,” said College of the Ozarks President Brad Johnson. “This was not the outcome we were hoping for, but we do believe that our willingness to push back caused a reaffirmation and solidification of our Title IX exemption as a religious institution. Our willingness to push back on the Biden administration helped trigger a retreat by the federal government from aggressively enforcing a policy that would clearly violate our Christian values and our religious liberties.
“We do not intend to change our course in offering housing for our students. We offer men’s dorms and women’s dorms, and those will remain separate. We will not allow men in women’s private dorm rooms or shower spaces. We will protect our female students. Most importantly, we will continue to stand for religious liberty in this country and will lead that charge. In the long run, we believe our commitment to stand for religious liberty will be to the benefit of all religious colleges and universities. The contest for religious liberty is not over, and we must remain vigilant. The College will continue to stand for its biblical values and for the religious liberties upon which this nation was founded.”
In March of 2023, nineteen states, multiple Christian colleges, and numerous advocacy groups submitted friend-of-the-court briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to take the case of College of the Ozarks.
The link to the original petition made by ADF may be accessed here: 25306 ADF COVER Petition.pdf (windows.net)
The petition notes that, “The [HUD] Directive forces the College to choose immediately between three injuries: (1) obey the government and abandon the College’s religious policies and speech; (2) refuse the government and risk crippling investigations and penalties; or (3) cease providing student housing.”
The lawsuit, College of the Ozarks v. Biden, opposes the HUD 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 suit also argues that the agency violated procedural requirements by not allowing public notice and comment, and that the directive violates the constitutional right of College of the Ozarks and similar religious institutions to operate consistently with their religious beliefs.