Supreme Court will not hear Christian college’s appeal to fight transgender housing

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a business owner's First Amendment rights allows her to refuse to design websites celebrating same-sex marriage Friday, June 30, 2023. File photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI

June 21 (UPI) — The Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from a private Christian college in Missouri, after the school sued the Biden administration for banning housing assignments that discriminate against transgender individuals.

The justices decided Tuesday to decline the College of the Ozarks‘ appeal of a lower ruling, saying the school had no legal standing.

The college sued the administration in April 2021, arguing an updated memo from the Department of Housing and Urban Development went against its dormitory assignments, which are based on students’ biological sex — not gender identity — to conform with the school’s religious teachings.

“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,” Julie Marie Blake, Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel, said in a statement.

“Though the high court chose not to review this case, we are hopeful it will soon take up related cases…. College of the Ozarks will continue to follow its beliefs.”

Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision confirms last year’s ruling by the St. Louis-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, which sided with the Biden administration, saying the college does not have a case to sue because the government has not tried to enforce an anti-discrimination case against it.

And the Justice Department argued the College of Ozarks would not likely face any enforcement because it holds a religious exemption.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order when he took office in 2021, directing federal agencies to interpret sex-discrimination provisions to prevent discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. The Fair Housing Act was updated a month later.

In its written response last month, the Biden administration told the Supreme Court that its 2021 guidance does not require the college “or any other housing provider to do or refrain from doing anything” and that the college “has not alleged any past, current or threatened enforcement.”

The school’s attorneys argue that despite the administration’s reassurances on enforcement, their failure to allow comment on the housing proposal before implementing it has “mammoth implications.”

“If HUD gets away with rewriting the FHA via the Directive, it has no incentive to ever go through the rule-making process,” the College of the Ozarks’ attorneys wrote in court filings.

“That eliminates judicial review until after an enforcement proceeding is complete and the regulated entity has already been harmed.”


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