On Oct. 5, Professor Jeaux Rinedahl’s legal counsel filed an opposition to Seattle Pacific University’s motion to move the case’s court date.
SPU filed the motion on Sept. 28, asking to move the court date for Rinedahl’s case from Jan. 10, 2022 to June 13, 2022, citing two reasons for wanting to continue the trial date.
The first is that conducting the trial during SPU’s academic year will cause hardship for SPU employees who might be called as witnesses. SPU argues that employees will have more flexibility in the summer.
“[The lawsuit] chills robust discussion about religious subjects and creates dissension in the campus community and hurts employee morale and SPU’s religious mission,” SPU’s motion reads. “It will be that much worse if it is forced to happen during an extremely busy part of the academic year when all the witnesses have daily responsibilities and will be under a media microscope.”
Director of Public Information Tracy Norlen cited additional reasons for the university’s motion for a continuance.
“Seattle Pacific University filed a motion requesting that the trial be deferred until June for multiple reasons, including to allow time to learn of Supreme Court decisions that could significantly affect the case, and to allow one of SPU’s attorneys more time to prepare for the trial after returning from maternity leave, ” Norlen said.
The two cases they reference are Woods v. Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission and DeWeese-Boyd v. Gordon College. Both cases are concerned with religious institutions and their policies concerning the LGBTQIA+ community.
The motion frustrated Rinedahl, as he considers this just another addition to a long history of delay tactics used by the university.
“They also make reference in one of the papers on how this has divided the SPU community and how terrible it is,” Rinedahl said. “I don’t think that stalling is going to change that. It’s only going to further exacerbate these issues that SPU caused and they just don’t want to deal with them and they will just push this back and push this back and let it die down.”
Rinedahl’s lawyer, Daniel Kalish, called SPU’s reasons for continuance “baseless.” The opposition filed by Kalish argues that the court case will likely only take one day and only require Rinedahl as a witness, and states that he will suffer prejudice if the continuance is granted.
“Professor Jeaux Rindedahl wants to move this case forward, and he does not want to needlessly delay his ability to obtain a timely ruling and judgement on his claims,” the opposition reads. “…if there were a case where a plaintiff would suffer prejudice from a continuance, this is it.”
Kalish feels as though SPU’s motion is inconsiderate to Rinedahl’s grievances.
“What is kind of shocking about their motion is that they focus a lot about their harm that it has caused Seattle Pacific University, but they never mention any of the pain this has caused Professor Rinedahl being the victim of discrimination,” Kalish said.
A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 11, after which a judge will rule on when the trial will take place.
Update: This article has been updated to include a statement from SPU (Oct. 7 2021)