University Pays Christian Students $90K To Settle Free Speech Lawsuit


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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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The University of Idaho (U of I) paid $90,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by three Christian students and a faculty advisor who claimed the university violated their right to free speech.

The lawsuit was filed after the university issued no-contact orders prohibiting Peter Perlot Mark Miller and Ryan Anderson, all members of the Christian Legal Society (CLS), and faculty advisor Professor Richard Seamon from interacting with a law student who disagreed with a CLS requirement that all members define marriage as between a man and a woman, according to the lawsuit’s text. U of I rescinded the no-contact orders in a settlement in favor of the legal society, ADF announced in Wednesday’s press release.

“Universities cannot punish students and professors simply for peacefully expressing their viewpoints on campus, and we are grateful the court recognized that,” Mathew Hoffmann, legal counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The ‘no-contact orders’ issued by the University of Idaho are just the latest attempts to silence speech on campus. But, as the court found, these orders violated the First Amendment. The court’s decision and this settlement have vindicated our clients’ freedom to engage in the campus marketplace of ideas.”

Jodi Walker, Co-Chief  Marketing Officer and Executive Director of Communications at U of I, told the DCNF that the settlement was “a favorable one” and referred to it as “a good business decision and one that is in the best interest of our students, the university and the state of Idaho.”

“Litigation costs money and time as well as creates the potential for ongoing trauma to students,” Walker said. “The university is often disadvantaged in such a case as laws prevent us from sharing the full story early in litigation without permission of our students. This case, for us, has always been about safe access to education, which is paramount.  This settlement achieves all of those objectives.”


ADF filed Perlot v. Green in April and claimed the university’s issuance of the no-contact order violated the group members’ right to speak according to their religion. (RELATED: Christian Web Designer Suing For Religious Freedom Says She’s ‘Encouraged’ After Supreme Court Arguments)

“Defendants’ no-contact orders have… chilled Plaintiffs from engaging in religious expression with other students at the Law School or the rest of the university,” the lawsuit read. “Defendants have thus censored Plaintiffs based on Plaintiffs’ religious views and on the content of their speech.”

The issue reportedly began after the law student spoke with Miller about the membership requirement, during which Miller explained that it exists to remain consistent with the Bible’s view of marriage and sexuality. Perlot then wrote a note to the law student offering to discuss the topic further, according to the lawsuit.

U of I allegedly did not disclose the allegations against the students and Seamon when it issued the no-contact order.

“If we are to repair the current culture of political polarization, conversations among persons with differing viewpoints are essential,” Christian Legal Society attorney Laura Nammo said in the press release. “University officials’ censorship of such conversations needlessly exacerbates polarization and harms all students’ ability to learn from one another.”

CLS, Seamon and U of I did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. The CLS chapter and students could not be contacted.

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