Lawsuit has potential to reach Supreme Court and affect school community

Alliance Defending Freedom’s Scott Baylor says that the lawsuit filed by Biola against the government will have a far-reaching effect in many different arenas that students should care about.


Elizabeth Sallie and Elizabeth Sallie

Responding to questions at the HHS Open Forum on Sept. 11, Alliance Defending Freedom's Scott Baylor speaks of the possible outcomes of the case. | Emily Arnold/THE CHIMES

Murmurs around campus about Biola’s lawsuit against the federal government have already started to die down as the university waits to hear the government’s response, which is required in the next few months.

Alliance Defending Freedom’s Scott Baylor, lead counsel on the case, said Biolans should care about the far-reaching effects of the decision — regardless of the outcome.

Baylor participated in a panel two weeks ago that provided information to students and faculty on Biola’s decision to sue the government over the Health and Human Services mandate that would require organizations to provide for abortion-inducing drugs under Obamacare.

Biola's name sets school apart from other lawsuits

With more than 25 different lawsuits filed against the government regarding the HHS mandate, the message is clear: People are unhappy, Baylor said.

“I think the sheer volume of the cases is part of message that this is an egregious violation of freedom,” Baylor said.

Biola’s lawsuit is one of many and it doesn’t have much to set it apart in any particular way, but the prestige of Biola’s name matters, Baylor said.

As a key institution in mainstream religious higher education, the university showed their willingness to stake their reputation on the idea of maintaining religious liberty, he said.

In the long term, though, each different lawsuit matters because each has the opportunity to be the deciding factor in a complex political situation.

“Every case that’s filed has the potential to go all the way up to the Supreme Court. We don’t know which one it’s going to be, whether it’s going to be this case or some other one,” Baylor said.

Preserving beliefs despite culture shifts

For Biola, the long term effect could reach far beyond the law to the core of the school’s identity, Baylor said.

“Higher education is replete with examples of very Christ-centered colleges that turned out not to be so Christ-centered. Did it happen in one day? No, it didn’t, but it happened because of a series of comparatively small capitulations over time,” he said.

He cited examples like Yale University, Harvard University and Dartmouth College — schools that were considered Christian at one time, and now are not.

“I think the lessons of history suggest that institutions like Biola have to be intentional in preserving their character over time. They have to take a stand even on things that maybe not dramatically change the institution overnight,” Baylor said.

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