Seattle Pacific University lawsuit against District Attorney General dismissed by federal judge
Federal judge dismissed Seattle Pacific University lawsuit against Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
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In August, Attorney General Bob Ferguson confirmed his office was investigating Seattle Pacific University (SPU) for its anti- LGBTQ employment practices.
At the time Al Día reported that students were taking measures to hold the board accountable for their decision to uphold policy.
In July, Seattle Pacific University filed a claim alleging that “the attorney general is wielding state power to interfere with religious beliefs of a religious university, and a church, whose beliefs he disagrees with.” Adding that Bob Ferguson is using his office power “to pressure and retaliate against Seattle Pacific University.”
This prompted Bob Ferguson to issue a statement stating that “Seattle Pacific University admits that it refuses to hire gay faculty and staff. In May, Seattle Pacific University students and staff staged a sit-in and called for the removal of the University’s board of trustees after they voted to keep in place school policies that prohibit employees from engaging in ‘same-sex sexual activity.’ Numerous Seattle Pacific University students, faculty, and others reached out to my office to file complaints or otherwise express deep concern that the University administration’s policies illegally violate Washingtonians’ civil rights.”
Now, a federal judge dismissed the University’s lawsuit against Washington State district attorney Bob Ferguson, citing that SPU First Amendment arguments should be raised in state court, and also reject SPU changes to state law.
“Seattle Pacific will continue to serve its students and community in accordance with its religious mission. We are disappointed with today’s procedural ruling, however, it did not touch on the larger issue regarding Seattle Pacific’s First Amendment rights. The court did not rule on the attorney general’s unlawful investigation. We will continue to defend SPU’s right to express its faith in all aspects of university life,” Lori Windham, vice president and senior counsel at Becket Law said to KING 5.
SPU interim President Pete Menjares issued a statement to KING 5 stating that SPU “remains committed to serving our students and campus community in a way that honors our Christian faith and mission. The government should not interfere with our ability to operate out of our sincerely held religious beliefs. We are disappointed with today’s ruling, but the court did not decide whether the state can investigate our university’s internal affairs. We will continue to defend ourselves from unlawful interference with our Christian mission.”
Washington State Office of the Attorney General issued a statement in regard to lawsuit being dismissed by federal judge, “instead of answering questions about its hiring process, the university filed a federal lawsuit arguing that it is above the law to such an extraordinary degree that my office cannot even send it a letter asking for information about its employment policies. Today, a federal judge appropriately rejected that extreme position.”
However, students and staff at Seattle Pacific University filed a lawsuit to hold the institution accountable for its discriminatory policies against same-sex relationships.
Al Día will continue to provide updates.