Idaho Law School: Unauthorized Disagreement
Three Christian law students have filed a federal lawsuit after the University of Idaho barred them from contact with another student who disagreed with their biblical views on marriage and sexuality.
According to April 25 complaint, the university’s Office of Civil Rights and Investigations issued the directive to Peter Perlot, Mark Miller and Ryan Alexander after a disagreement with a female student. The three students, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, argue that the school’s no-contact order violates their freedom of speech and the free exercise of their religion. In a follow-up movementthey asked the court to overturn the school’s order and block the investigation.
The law students joined other members of the Christian Legal Society (CLS) at a school-wide “community moment” rally in early April, according to the complaint. Students had gathered to condemn an anti-LGTBQ slur written on a whiteboard on another university campus. CLS students, as well as some non-CLS students, gathered at the event to pray.
At the assembly, another law student approached the three to ask why the school’s CLS chapter requires its officers to affirm that marriage is between a man and a woman. Miller explained that this was the only view affirmed in the Bible. Shortly after the discussion, Perlot, president of the CLS chapter, wrote a note to the student offering to meet and discuss their differences, the complaint states. Instead, days later, the student denounced CLS’ position during a panel with the American Bar Association.
Alexander and another student attended the meeting and said in the complaint that some of the student’s accusations — such as one of the CLS students telling him to “go to hell” — were inaccurate. He said most of the discrimination he saw on campus was against CLS and its religious beliefs. The band struggled to gain recognition as an official student band.
Three days later, the school issued no-contact orders. The accused students said they were not given notice or given an opportunity to review the allegations or defend themselves. The orders — issued under the school’s Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy and its Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Policies — bar the three CLS members from contact with their accuser and order them to sit down. on the opposite side of the student in any classroom. Terms have no end date and apply both on campus and off campus.
No-contact orders have always been enforced when serious allegations of sexual harassment have occurred. But Freedom Defense Alliance lawyer Mathew Hoffmann said they are increasingly being used to silence controversial speeches that embarrass those who disagree.
“These policies are so broad that they give university administrators absolute discretion to censor viewpoints they don’t like, which is exactly what happened here,” Hoffmann said. He added that the policies go well beyond what federal law requires.
The ADF handled a similar case regarding a Southern Illinois University no-contact order issued to a female student after classmates complained that her opinions were not welcome or valued. After receiving a letter of the ADF, the university dropped the investigation.
Hoffmann said the University of Idaho has not responded and no hearing has been set on the ADF’s motion.