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Michigan AG files brief in support of former EMU grad student

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette
Photo courtesy of Michigan's Attorney General office
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a briefagainst Eastern Michigan University, alleging the university violated a student’s civil rights. 

Julea Ward was a student in EMU’s masters program for counseling. When she refused to counsel gay students because she’s morally against homosexuality, she tried to refer them to another counselor.

EMU says she violated the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics, and removed her from the program. Ward sued EMU in 2009 for violating her constitutional rights.

A federal court in Detroit dismissed the case saying EMU did not discriminate against Ward. Now the Michigan Attorney General’s office is filing an appeal on behalf of Ward.

John Selleck is with the AG’s office. He says this case "would set a standard going forward for other students who have religious objections in any Michigan college case going forward. We think that was a very important reason for us to get involved."

The U.S. Court of Appeals will set a date for oral arguments later this year.

EMU issued a statement in response to the AGs filing. Here's an excerpt:

We are confident the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals will arrive at the same conclusion as the July 2010 ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The District Court dismissed the entire case -- all six claims against 17 defendants. The Court's ruling reflected strong views on the case, as conveyed in this particular section: "Plaintiff has distorted the facts in this case to support her position that defendants dismissed her due to her religious beliefs." (Opinion, p. 28.) The brief filed by the Attorney General relied on these factual distortions to support the arguments advanced in its brief.

Further information about the case can be found here.


Jennifer is a reporter for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project, which looks at kids from low-income families and what it takes to get them ahead. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and was one of the lead reporters on the award-winning education series Rebuilding Detroit Schools. Prior to working at Michigan Radio, Jennifer lived in New York where she was a producer at WFUV, an NPR station in the Bronx.
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