A Christian college is appealing to the Supreme Court over its lawsuit against the Biden administration’s reinterpretation of Title IX.
Title IX is a 1970s era law that prohibits discrimination based on sex at any school or education program. In one of the administration’s first executive orders, Biden redefined the term sex under Title IX to include gender identity rather than simply biological sex. The reinterpretation also applies to the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
The College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri, filed a suit challenging the new rules in 2021, fearing that the novel language would force the school to host co-educational dorms, bathrooms and other facilities based on claimed gender identity.
“This directive means that, because college dorms are regulated under the Fair Housing Act, colleges will suffer government punishment unless they let males live in women’s dorms and dorm rooms (and vice versa),” said Matt Bowman, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing the college.
Rewriting of the FHA poses an immediate problem for the College of the Ozarks as a Christian educational institution, said the college’s petition to the Supreme Court.
While students of any faith can attend the college, they must agree to follow a code of conduct, including dormitory policies.
The college’s faith teaches that sex is based on male-female biology, not gender identity.
In its suit, the college asked for a temporary restraining order against the new rules and for relief under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
In June 2021, U.S. District Court Judge Roseann Ketchmark, an Obama appointee, dismissed the suit, saying that the college failed “to demonstrate the requisite element of an injury-in-fact.”
Last July, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Ketchmark’s decision, two votes to one, with Judge Leonard Grasz dissenting from the majority.
“This case highlights the corrosive effect on the rule of law when important changes in government policy are implemented outside the normal administrative process,” wrote Grasz in his dissent.
Bowman leaned on Grasz’ opinion in ADF’s latest petition to the Supreme Court.
“Until the Supreme Court takes the case,” Bowman said, “citizens in the 8th Circuit are at the mercy of thousands of federal bureaucrats who have power over environmental, employment, business, and health issues and can operate largely without fear that judges will declare any of their rules unlawful.”