Paul L. Caron

Sunday, July 10, 2022

U.S. District Court Orders Law School To Rescind No-Contact Orders Issued Against Christian Legal Society Faculty Advisor And Students Who Shared Their Religious Views With Another Student

Washington Times, Christian Law Students, Professor Win Injunction Against U. of Idaho ‘No Contact’ Orders:

Idaho LogoA federal judge has ordered the University of Idaho to rescind no-contact orders issued against three evangelical Christian law students who shared their religious views with another student [Perlot v. Green, No. 3:22-cv-00183 (D. Idaho June 30, 2022)].

Peter Perlot, Mark Miller and Ryan Alexander — members of the law school’s Christian Legal Society chapter — are “free to speak in a manner consistent with their religious beliefs” as a lawsuit against university President C. Scott Green and three other school officials progresses, an announcement from the Alliance Defending Freedom stated.

The public-interest law firm represents the three students, who sued the University of Idaho administrators in April after the no-contact orders were issued against them and subsequently against law professor Richard Seamon, faculty adviser to the school’s Christian Legal Society chapter.

The dustup at the university’s law school stems from an April 1 “moment of community” where students, faculty and staff gathered in front of the Moscow, Idaho, campus after an anti-LGBTQ+ slur was found on a whiteboard at the university’s Boise campus. The Christian Legal Society members were present and prayed “in a showing of support,” the order from federal Chief District Judge David C. Nye says.

After the prayer, “Jane Doe,” identified in the opinion as “a queer female and a law student at the University of Idaho School of Law,” approached the society members and asked why the group requires its officers to affirm marriage as being between one man and one woman.

Alliance Defending Freedom, Court: Idaho Law Students Free to Share Their Religious Views on Campus:

University officials issued no-contact orders against Perlot, Miller, Alexander, and the CLS chapter’s faculty adviser, Professor Richard Seamon, after a student had asked the chapter why it requires its officers to affirm the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. Miller had respectfully explained that the chapter requires this because it is the only view of marriage and sexuality affirmed in the Bible.

Soon after, Perlot left a handwritten note for the student and told her that he would be happy to discuss this further so that they could both be fully heard and better understand one another’s views. A few days later, the student and several others publicly denounced CLS’s actions at a panel with the American Bar Association. Alexander attended that meeting and explained that the characterizations were inaccurate, that the greatest amount of discrimination he had seen on campus was the discrimination against CLS and its religious beliefs, and that he was concerned about the state of religious freedom on campus.

When university officials issued the no-contact orders three days later, they did not inform the CLS members that anyone had complained about them, and they did not give the students an opportunity to review the allegations against them or defend themselves. After Perlot, Miller, and Alexander filed their lawsuit and motion for preliminary injunction, university officials doubled down and issued a similar no-contact order against Seamon, prompting ADF attorneys to add him to the case.

“College campuses should be places where free speech is vibrant and the First Amendment is esteemed,” said CLS Executive Director and CEO David Nammo. “CLS is grateful the court acknowledged this today and stood up against a cancel culture threatened by a marketplace of differing ideas.”

David Lat (Original Jurisdiction), Perlot v. Green: The Latest Law School Free Speech Controversy:

In a free society, you can't force people to approve of your actions or to agree with your views. ...

First, getting insulted or criticized isn’t the same as being the victim of “violence.” ... If you punch someone in the nose, the law can address that through civil liability or criminal punishment. If you say someone has an ugly nose, that might be rude—but it’s not “violence,” and your comment is constitutionally protected opinion.

As an Asian American, a gay man, and someone who has written on the internet for almost two decades, I have lost count of the slurs, insults, and other negative things that have been said to or about me over the years. When I first started blogging, an insult would get under my skin, and I’d dwell on it for days. Today—after years of putting up with this, and getting older and wiser—I often can’t remember the insults the next day. ...

Second, the Constitution protects the rights to believe that marriage is between one man and woman and to express that belief. As a man married to another man, I disagree with that belief, but I recognize the right of people to hold and express it. ...

By the same token, the First Amendment protects the right of people to criticize religious beliefs at odds with marriage equality, to label the holders of these beliefs as bigots, and to engage in concerted private action to express condemnation of their views—e.g., to sign petitions or to organize boycotts.

But government institutions, including public universities like the University of Idaho, are more constrained. When it comes to pure speech, especially speech driven by religious belief, they must be scrupulously viewpoint—or content—neutral; they can’t take sides in the culture wars. I realize these observations are painfully banal. But based on what’s happening at law schools across the country—even in Idaho, not exactly a hub of wokeness—maybe they bear repeating.

Here’s the bottom line: not everyone will like or respect you, your thoughts, or your conduct. And not everyone has to; that’s part of living in a free society. By the same token, you’re free to criticize these people, their thoughts, and their conduct. That’s part of living in a free society too.

Jonathan Turley (George Washington), University of Idaho Loses Major Free Speech and Religious Freedom Case:

It is distressing to see the lack of support for the expression of these viewpoints at the University of Idaho. However, these students and Professor Seamon have secured a major win for free speech and religious expression. I hope that the University will heed the opinion and not appeal in the interests of these core constitutional rights.

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