In Hunter v. United States Department of Education, (D OR, Jan. 12, 2023), an Oregon federal district court dismissed a suit brought by students who have attended a religious college or university challenging the application of the religious exemption in Title IX in a manner that allows religious colleges and universities to discriminate against LGBTQ students. Rejecting plaintiffs’ equal protection claim, the court said in part:
Plaintiffs have not alleged how the religious exemption fails intermediate scrutiny. Defendants point out that the Ninth Circuit has recognized “that free exercise of religion and conscience is undoubtedly, fundamentally important.”… Exempting religiously controlled educational institutions from Title IX—and only to the extent that a particular application of Title IX would not be consistent with a specific tenet of the controlling religious organization, see 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a)(3)—is substantially related to the government’s objective of accommodating religious exercise.
The court rejected plaintiffs’ Establishment Clause challenge applying the Lemon test. The court also rejected various other constitutional challenges to the exemption.Religion Clause: Title IX Religious Exemption Survives Constitutional Challenge