Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing College of the Ozarks argued its case Nov. 17 before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit that Biden administration mandates on housing and private spaces for transgender students are unconstitutional.
The case centers around a directive issued in February by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that requires all colleges and universities—including religious schools—to open their female dormitories and shower spaces to biological males who identify as transgender. If schools fail to comply, they could face six-figure fines, unlimited damages, intrusive investigations, government lawsuits, and even criminal penalties.
“The Biden administration’s agenda presents a two-pronged threat to the First Amendment,” College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. “First, it squelches our right to speak the truth that men and women are different—and that we respect their dignity and privacy by providing excellent housing to both in separate dorms. Second, it suppresses our religious right to provide affordable education to young people in an environment that lives by the truth of Genesis 1:27: “male and female he created them.”
In May, a federal judge denied the Missouri Christian college’s request for a preliminary injunction to block the directive.
According to ADF Senior Counsel Julie Marie Blake, the judge basically said the school couldn’t challenge the directive in court until the government came after them. Only then could a judge rule about whether the directive is lawful or not.
“The judge said, ‘Come back later, after you’re in really big trouble’—which is outrageous,” Blake said.
Following the district court’s dismissal, ADF attorneys appealed. The 8th Circuit—one step below the U.S. Supreme Court—agreed to hold an expedited hearing.
“The U.S. is at a political and spiritual crossroads,” said Davis. “Will our country allow the whims of elite opinion to impose a novel redefinition of humanity on ordinary Americans? Or will we stand up for the fundamentals of freedom that were endowed by our Creator and guaranteed by the Constitution?
If the 8th Circuit chooses not to grant the injunction, College of the Ozarks will be under orders to comply with the FHA mandate beginning this fall semester.
It has not yet been announced when a ruling is to be expected.
For more information, check out an article College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis wrote for Decision’s July-August issue.
Photo: Courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom