Federal Judge Rules University of Idaho Cannot Punish Students For Opposing Homosexuality

Last Updated on July 7, 2022

A federal judge ruled the University of Idaho must remove no-contact orders placed against Christian students over their moral views on homosexuality.

The judge’s ruling comes in response to a lawsuit filed by three students that accused the public university of silencing their First Amendment rights on campus.

“We’re pleased they are again free to exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms without fear of punishment, and we look forward to a final resolution of this case in their favor and, ultimately, in favor of free speech for everyone,” attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who are representing the students, said in a press release following the ruling.

The three students, Peter Perlot, Mark Miller, and Ryan Alexander, are members of a Christian Legal Society (CLS) chapter at the university. The group’s constitution defines marriage to be between one man and one woman.

During the recent Spring semester, a female student challenged Perlot as to why the group’s constitution had that view on homosexuality. Perlot and the group defended themselves, explaining how their views on homosexuality were rooted in their Christian beliefs.

The upset female student, along with other students, eventually publicly denounced the group at a panel with the American Bar Association. This is after Perlot attempted to initiate further dialogue with the angered student, leaving her a handwritten note which said he would be “happy to discuss this further so that they could both be fully heard and better understand one another’s views.”

The ADF group claims the Christian group was never given an opportunity to defend themselves after the no-contact orders were issued. “The university’s Office of Civil Rights and Investigations issued Perlot, Miller, and Alexander no-contact orders against the student even though the CLS members did not receive notice that anyone had complained about them and were not given an opportunity to review the allegations against them or defend themselves.”

In the recent ADF press release, attorney Mathew Hoffmann slammed the university for what he believes was an unconstitutional punishment. “The university has unlawfully punished these three students just because it disagrees with their viewpoints. That’s simply not constitutional,” he stated. “We’re pleased they are again free to exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms without fear of punishment, and we look forward to a final resolution of this case in their favor and, ultimately, in favor of free speech for everyone.”

The CLS Executive Director and CEO David Nammo also voiced his support for the judge’s ruling. “College campuses should be places where free speech is vibrant and the First Amendment is esteemed. CLS is grateful the court acknowledged this today and stood up against a cancel culture threatened by a marketplace of differing ideas.”

Professor Richard Seamon, the faculty advisor to the CLS chapter, also held similar viewpoints as the group does, and is facing a “limited contact” order from the University of Idaho.

Chief U.S. District Judge David C. Nye issued the preliminary injunction against the enforcement of the university’s policies against the students last week.

Nye said, “the Court agrees Plaintiffs have a high likelihood of showing Defendants violated the First Amendment by issuing the no-contact orders based on the content and viewpoint of their speech.”

“Some may disagree with Plaintiffs’ religious beliefs. Such is each person’s prerogative and right. But none should disagree that Plaintiffs have a right to express their religious beliefs without fear of retribution. The Constitution makes that clear,” the federal judge added.

Stay tuned to National File for any updates.

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