A federal judge has denied College of the Ozarks’ request to be exempted from a 2021 Biden administration directive that forces the college to violate its religious convictions by mandating that all living spaces, locker rooms, and bathrooms must be open to both sexes.
The executive order stipulates that “all persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.”
Judge Roseann Ketchmark ruled against providing a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to the Christian liberal arts school Wednesday after an online hearing. She stated that the college would not be immune from litigation regarding claims of housing discrimination if it attempted to disregard the Biden regulation.
With the support of the legal advocacy organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the school filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other federal officials last month. The college subsequently asked for a jury trial. The suit stated that the order “requires private religious colleges to place biological males into female dormitories and to assign them as females’ roommates.”
The plaintiffs argued the Biden rule coerced colleges, despite their religious objections, to allow members of the opposite sex, who may identify as transgender, into “intimate spaces” such as dorm rooms, restrooms, and other formerly single-sex buildings on campus or risk financial penalty for non-compliance.
“There is no doubt that this is creating serious consequences,” Julie Blake, an ADF lawyer involved in the case, remarked.
While a student has not yet filed an official complaint over the rule, Blake said that “The college need not wait for an actual prosecution or enforcement action before challenging a law’s constitutionality.”
HUD attorney James Luh said the order was not specifically targeting the school and ” does not specifically address the kinds of issues the college has raised here — showers, or roommates.”
Because a triggering dispute has not yet happened, “The plaintiffs can’t establish either irreparable harm or the likelihood of success necessary to sustain a preliminary injunction,” Luh commented.
The judge’s denial comes after the Biden administration recently used its executive order power to signal it will start cracking down on Republican-dominated state governments that exclude gender identity transition procedures from their Medicare programs. The Equality Act pending in the Senate, if enacted, will codify the non-biological definition of sex espoused by the Biden administration, with adverse implications for religious institutions and liberty as well as healthcare practices and medical conscience rights.