by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
George Leef writes for the Martin Center about one Christian college’s stand against the federal Leviathan.
Under the Constitution, the federal government has no power over education, including arrangements that colleges make for student housing and expectations for their conduct on campus. Furthermore, the First Amendment protects religious institutions’ freedom to speak and operate according to their beliefs.
Nevertheless, College of the Ozarks has just filed suit against President Biden and two bureaucrats in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The reason for the suit is a directive issued by HUD that imposes a rule against housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, a rule that the federal government intends to apply to colleges as well as commercial sellers and renters of housing. (The college’s complaint is available here.)
The college has always kept housing for men and women separate, but under the directive, its policy would be illegal because it recognizes only biological males and females. It won’t place students in campus housing based on their claimed gender orientation. If the school were to continue its traditional policies, it would face costly litigation and ruinous fines from the government.
With legal assistance from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the school has filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Missouri, where it will be heard by Judge Roseann Ketchmark. It asks the court to block enforcement of the federal directive, arguing that it was issued without the required notice and comment under the Administrative Procedure Act, it exceeds the powers of HUD under the Fair Housing Act, it violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it violates the college’s rights under the Constitution, and it exceeds the scope of federal powers under the Tenth Amendment.
Thus, the court has an array of sound legal grounds for stepping in to enjoin the government from applying the directive to College of the Ozarks and other schools that do not want to be compelled to place men with women in their dormitories.