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Update on Julea Ward case

There is for the moment good news in the Julea Ward case against Eastern Michigan University. I wrote at length about that case for The Christendom Review, here. Briefly, Ward was expelled from EMU's counseling program for refusing to engage in counseling which affirmed a homosexual lifestyle. In the course of deciding whether to expel her, the faculty gave her the option of undergoing a reeducation program to change her religious views, which they regarded as incompatible with professional counseling practices. Federal District Court Judge George Sheeh rendered summary judgement in favor of EMU, meaning the case would not even go to trial. Now, the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit Court has overruled Judge Sheeh and returned the case for a jury trial with a stinging opinion.

A university cannot compel a student to alter or violate her belief systems based on a phantom policy as the price for obtaining a degree…. That [Ward's] conflict arose from religious convictions is not a good answer; that her conflict arose from religious convictions for which the department at times showed little tolerance is a worse answer.

Ward was willing to work with all clients and to respect the school’s affirmation directives in doing so. That is why she asked to refer gay and lesbian clients (and some heterosexual clients) if the conversation required her to affirm their sexual practices. What more could the rule require? Surely, for example, the ban on discrimination against clients based on their religion (1) does not require a Muslim counselor to tell a Jewish client that his religious beliefs are correct if the conversation takes a turn in that direction and (2) does not require an atheist counselor to tell a person of faith that there is a God if the client is wrestling with faith-based issues. Tolerance is a two-way street. Otherwise, the rule mandates orthodoxy, not anti-discrimination.

The EMU case will not be the last case in which advocates of the homosexual rights agenda attempt to impose their views as orthodoxy. Eternal vigilance being the price of freedom, as it is, we can be thankful for the ADF, which is representing Ward. Now the case goes to trial, and it bears watching. (Question: Will Judge Sheeh be conducting the trial? How could one find out?)

Comments (5)

Question: Will Judge Sheeh be conducting the trial?

As a general rule yes, although the whatever-it-is District of Michigan may have peculiar case-management rules. But ordinarily, once a case is assigned to a trial judge, that judge will preside over the case for its entire life unless he retires, recuses himself, or the case is transferred to another judge for some other reason (e.g., as part of consolidating it with another case).

How could one find out?

There are several potential avenues. 1) The District Court Clerk may post dockets on its own website. 2) PACER will give you access to everything you could ever want to know about any current federal case (and most cases from recent years; coverage gets spotty from before 2000). It charges 4 (or is it 8?) cents a page, but, you only get billed if you accumulate $10 in charges in a month (a wonderful relic of the days of paper invoices): so you basically have 800 or however many pages for free each month. 3) You could always call the Clerk and ask, but I doubt the assistant clerks in the office will like that very much.

Thanks, Titus. I think we shd. probably assume Sheeh will be conducting the case. I don't know how much harm he can do in the way of biased instructions to the jury or excluding evidence or what-not (his opinion was a real doozy when he rendered summary judgement), but I'm sure the ADF will be on the ball.

Steeh will handle the trial of the case, assuming it does not settle. His opinion dismissing the case was very wrong, but he can be counted on to run a fair trial. It is possible that EMU could ask for an en banc decision, or even petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court. They are unlikely to receive any relief via those routes--especially the latter.

Again, assuming it does not settle. The Sixth Circuit opinion offers a roadmap for Ms. Ward's legal team to steamroll EMU--the panel could not, and did not rule on the relative credibility of the sides, but it's clear that they considered the University's arguments to be after-the-fact rationalizations.

This is the equivalent of shining an Al Signal on the front page. Looking forward to the discussion.

CJ, lol and you are quite right.

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