On Oct. 8, U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor ruled that Florida State University must continue to pay Jack Denton, former FSU student senate president, for the remainder of his term but ruled that Denton will not return to his position.
Winsor also found that Denton’s first amendment rights were violated.
The ruling was the result of Denton seeking a preliminary injunction.
Over the summer, Denton was ousted from his position after he made controversial political statements in a private group chat with members of the Catholic Student Union. He criticized the Black Lives Matter organization, the American Civil Liberties Union and Reclaim the Block in one discussion.
“BlackLivesMatter.com fosters ‘a queer-affirming network’ and defends transgenderism,” Denton wrote. “The ACLU defends laws protecting abortion facilities and sued states that restrict access to abortion. Reclaim the Block claims less police will make our communities safer and advocates for cutting PDs’ budgets. This is a little less explicit, but I think it’s contrary to the Church’s teaching on the common good.”
Soon after a student posted screenshots of the conversation on social media, Denton was removed by a vote of no-confidence and replaced by Ahmad Daraldik.
Denton initially appealed to the student court and Vice President of Student Affairs Amy Hecht. After his case was never heard by the student court, Denton began his lawsuit and preliminary injunction motion.
According to the order released Thursday, Denton sued, contending that his First Amendment rights were violated. He sued five people—three university administrators and two student senators—in their official capacities, making it effectively a suit against FSU.
In his emergency motion for preliminary injunction, Denton sought to be reinstated as president. In the preliminary order, Winsor ruled that Denton will not be reinstated.
Winsor said in the order that reinstating Denton would cause “more harm than good” and cause “disruption and turmoil” within the student senate.
However, he ruled that because FSU violated Denton’s First Amendment rights, FSU must continue to pay Denton for the rest of the student senate president’s term for six hours per week. According to the order, the student senate president makes $9.00 per hour, and Denton’s term was supposed to continue through October.
“Denton was serving in student government, and he had a constitutional right not to have that taken away from him based on his privately expressing his religious views,” Winsor’s order states.
As the case moves forward, a scheduling conference is scheduled for Oct. 19.