Florida State University student Jack Denton says that he was removed from the university’s student government organization over his Catholic faith. In a recently filed lawsuit, Denton and his attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom accuse the university of engaging in “unconstitutional retaliation” against him over his faith.
According to a report by the College Fix, Florida State University student Jack Denton filed a lawsuit against his university this week over its decision to remove him from his leadership position with the university’s student government.
Members of the student government successfully ousted Denton earlier this year following comments he made about transgenderism. However, Denton claims that he was targeted by his peers over his faith.
Although Denton has retained his position as a student senator, he was removed from his position as president of the student government association based on his comments on transgenders and after he argued that the Black Lives Matter movement and the ACLU are organizations that promote “grave evils.” These comments were also couched in his religious beliefs — Denton said, “It’s important to know what you’re supporting when you’re Catholic. If I stay silent while my brothers and sisters are supporting an organization that promotes grave evils I have sinned through my silence.”
In a statement, Denton’s attorney, Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer argued that it is unconstitutional for Florida State University to punish Denton on the basis of his religious beliefs.
All students should be able to peacefully share their personal convictions without fear of retaliation. Florida State should be fostering real diversity of thought, not punishing individuals based on their religious convictions or political beliefs. While FSU students claim they’re creating a ‘safe space,’ they’ve tried to cancel Jack’s freedoms and discriminate against him because they don’t like his beliefs, in direct violation of the school’s SGA Ethics Code, the Student Body Constitution, and—most importantly—the First Amendment.
Florida State University’s General Counsel Carolyn Egan argued in a statement that the university is not liable for the actions of leaders with the student government.
FSU is aware of the civil lawsuit filed by Mr. Denton after he was provisionally removed as Student Government Association Senate president by a two-thirds vote of his colleagues on June 5, 2020. Recognizing that student governments are created by students for the purpose of experiential self-governance, universities are protected from civil liability of the actions of student government unless the university has taken action to adopt the decision, which hasn’t occurred here. We look forward to seeking dismissal of Mr. Denton’s claims by the court.
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