College of the Ozarks is pursuing a review of a ruling it believes violates its religious beliefs.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing C of O recently asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision made by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, which concluded the Christian college cannot sue the Biden administration for seeking to force the college to violate its religious beliefs in regards to dormitory and shower use.
According to a press release by the college, the appeals court refused to block a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development directive which would require the college to open its dormitories, including dorm rooms and shared shower spaces, to members of the opposite sex or face fines up to six figures, punitive damages, and attorney fees.
“College of the Ozarks should be free to follow the religious tradition on which it was founded,” ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch said. “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. If the 8th Circuit decision stands, College of the Ozarks could be forced to choose between violating its religious beliefs or risking intrusive federal investigations and significant enforcement penalties. 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.”
According to the petition filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, the directive would require the college to reverse its housing policies for 1,300 students. If the directive is enforced, it could require the college to cease statements of its policies, preventing it from following through on ongoing plans and communications for student housing consistent with its religious beliefs. If the current ruling stands, it 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 lawsuit, College of the Ozarks v. Biden, opposes the HUD directive and the executive order requiring it, stating 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 states the HUD directive contradicts the clear wording, meaning, and historical interpretation of the Fair Housing Act, which confirms the word “sex” means biological sex. The suit also argues the agency violated procedural requirements by not allowing public notice and comment, also stating the directive violates the constitutional right of College of the Ozarks and similar religious institutions to operate consistently with their religious beliefs.
For further information, contact College of the Ozarks at (800) 222-0525 or visit www.cofo.edu.
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