Update and statements on dismissal of SPU's lawsuit against attorney general
In July 2022, Seattle Pacific filed a lawsuit in Washington Western District Court against Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson to defend the University’s faith-based hiring decisions. The attorney general opened an investigation against Seattle Pacific in June 2022 and demanded the University turn over confidential information on employees as well as internal policies. Seattle Pacific had asked the court to step in and protect its freedom to have religious conduct standards for employees as protected by the First Amendment.
On Oct. 26, 2022, the judge ruled in favor of the attorney general's motion to dismiss the case on procedural grounds, stating that the issues needed to be decided in a state court rather than a federal court. The ruling did not address SPU’s First Amendment rights or whether the attorney general’s investigation was appropriate.
Following the ruling, Interim President Pete Menjares and Becket Vice President and Senior Counsel Lori Windham released the following statements.
Statement from Pete Menjares, interim president of Seattle Pacific University, on Judge Robert Bryan's motion to dismiss the SPU lawsuit against Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson on procedural grounds.
"We remain 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.”
Statement from Lori Windham, vice president and senior counsel, Becket (representing SPU)
“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.”
Posted: Wednesday, October 26, 2022