March 11, 2011
Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced his office has filed an amicus
brief in support of Julea Ward, a former Eastern Michigan University student who
is suing the university in federal court for violating her constitutional rights
after she was dismissed from a graduate counseling program due to her religious
religious freedoms enshrined in our Constitution do not evaporate when you step
on campus," said Schuette. "Unless these freedoms are vigorously defended, it
sets a dangerous precedent that threatens education for all students of faith.
We must strongly defend and protect the rights of any citizen to ensure the
rights of all citizens."
was dismissed from Eastern Michigan University's graduate counseling program on
March 12, 2009, after she inquired about appropriate referral practices in cases
where the counselor's religious values and beliefs are in conflict with the
client's views. In response to her request, the university enacted formal
disciplinary proceedings. At the subsequent disciplinary hearing, Ward's
religious beliefs were questioned and criticized by university officials.
ultimately dismissed from the program under the justification that she had
allegedly violated the American Counseling Association's Code of Ethics and
Standards of Practice when she requested guidance about referring a client to a
different counselor. Ward was expelled even though the university had
previously allowed students to make referrals without being subject to
2009, Ward filed suit in U.S. District Court against the university asking for
reinstatement to the program, claiming the university engaged in religious
discrimination in violation of the 1st and 14th amendments
to the United States Constitution. Ward has appealed to the U.S. Court of
Appeals, asking for a reversal of the district court's grant of summary judgment
for the university or reconsideration of her case.
In the brief
filed today, Schuette defends Ward's religious freedoms, arguing that both the
American Counseling Association Code of Ethics and Eastern Michigan University's
own counseling textbooks allow for referrals by counselors. Schuette argues
that Ward should not have been denied the opportunity to make a referral and
that her dismissal from the program may have violated her constitutional rights.
brief was filed today in the case Julea Ward v. Roy Wilbanks, et al. The
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is expected to set a date for oral
argument later this year.
To view a copy of the
brief click on this link.