Perlot v. Green

Officials at the University of Idaho issued no-contact orders against Peter Perlot, Mark Miller, and Ryan Alexander – all members of the CLS law student chapter – and the chapter’s faculty advisor, Professor Richard Seaman, after a series of events occurred on campus in April 2022.

At a community campus event, a student asked CLS chapter members why the chapter requires its officers to affirm the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman, and Mark respectfully explained that the chapter requires this because it is the only view of marriage and sexuality that the Bible affirms. Peter noticed the student had taken offense to Mark’s statement and, after the event, left a note on her desk when she was not there. The note simply stated that he would be happy to discuss the issue further, allowing them to both be heard and better understand the other’s beliefs. Several days after the campus event, some students walked out of Professor Seaman’s classes in protect of this presence at the event and his quiet support of Mark.

Also a few days later, the student and several others publicly denounced CLS’ actions at a panel with the American Bar Association. Ryan, who had not been present at the community event, explained that the characterizations were inaccurate, that the greatest amount of discrimination he had seen on campus was the discrimination against CLS and its religious beliefs (particularly when the Student Bar Association delayed recognition of the CLS chapter), and that he was concerned about the state of religious freedom on campus.

University officials issued no contact orders against Peter, Mark, and Ryan three days later. The university officials did so without informing the students that anyone had complained about them. Nor did they give the students an opportunity to review the allegations against them or defend themselves. Peter, Mark, and Ryan then filed a lawsuit and motion for preliminary injunction against university officials after which the university officials doubled down and issued a similar no-contact order against Professor Seaman. An amended complaint was then filed adding the professor to the case.

Plaintiffs’ preliminary injunction motion asked the court to order university officials to rescind the unlawful no-contact orders that they had issued against the students and professor because of the religious content and viewpoint of their speech. A hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of the orders was held in late May.

The federal court in Idaho issued an order granting the preliminary injunction in favor of the students and the professor, ruling that the law students and professor are likely to prevail in their case against university. The court also ordered the university to rescind the no-contact orders and refrain from enforcing the policy that allowed university officials to impose the no-contact orders based on the plaintiffs’ speech while the case continued. In doing so, the court found that “the University overstepped when it issued the no-contact orders against” the students. The ruling restored the rights of the students and professor to speak in a manner consistent with their religious beliefs.  

In the end, the students and professor settled their lawsuit against the University of Idaho, and together all parties filed a stipulated dismissal. Under the settlement agreement, the no-contact orders issued against the students and the professor have been permanently wiped from their university records, the free speech rights of the students and the professor have been restored, and the University paid monetary damages to the students and the professor for its efforts to restrict the students’ and professor’s free speech.