Catholic Student Who Stood Against Cancel Culture In School Wins In Court, Hopes His Case ‘Will Embolden Others’

Jack Denton
Jack Denton |

Florida State University reached an agreement with its former student Senate president after he was ousted for voicing his religious and political views with fellow student officials.

According to the Daily Caller News Foundation's report run through WND's web publication, Jack Denton reached an agreement with Florida State University (FSU) on Tuesday, almost a year after he was fired from his student government leadership post for criticizing leftist ideas such as those from Black Lives Matter.

According to the settlement agreement released with the Daily Caller, FSU agreed to pay Denton $10,000 in damages and $1,050 in back salary that he would have earned if he hadn't been dismissed.

"If you stand against cancel culture, you can win," Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer told the Daily Caller. "Cancel culture is scary and it's very active, but Jack shows that if you stand, you can win."

Denton, who has now graduated, said he considers himself fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with ADF in the pursuit of truth and justice. He stated that the settlement provided him with a great deal of comfort.

"I hope that my case will embolden other students to not be afraid to speak their mind and to share their religious convictions with others," Denton told the Daily Caller. "When we engage in free speech, we make society better."

Langhofer noted that when Judge Allen Winsor of the Northern District Court of Florida and the FSU Student Supreme Court both ruled in favor of Denton in October, ADF began negotiating a settlement with the institution.

Under the settlement, FSU must release a statement shortly expressing its commitment to upholding the rights of all students "no matter their religion." The university must also update its webpage identifying previous student government representatives to reflect Denton's reinstatement according to a court ruling.

"The First Amendment is universal and extends to people of all beliefs," Denton said. "This victory is a victory for all religious students."

According to ADF Legal Counsel Logan Spena, the settlement confirms that religious students cannot be penalized for their religious convictions.

"We are pleased that Florida State has finally affirmed its commitment to students' First Amendment rights on campus," said Spena. "All students should be able to peacefully share their personal convictions without fear of retaliation."

In the aftermath of George Floyd's murder in police custody in Minneapolis in June, Denton counseled friends in a private Catholic Student Union group text message against sending money to Black Lives Matter, the ACLU, or Reclaim the Block. He said that the organizations promote issues such as transgenderism and abortion that are contrary to Catholic teaching.

After the communications were released to other student senators, Denton, the FSU student Senate president, was voted out of his post. Denton was accused of "dehumanizing" people and being "explicitly racist" for privately telling acquaintances not to fund leftist groups.

"I don't feel safe with you as president," remarked Valentina Brown, an FSU student, during a Senate debate on Denton's dismissal on June 5. "You are condemning our identities, an integral part of ourselves and our nature."

In August, ADF filed a federal lawsuit against FSU officials, arguing that his dismissal constituted "unconstitutional retaliation" in violation of his First Amendment rights. Langhofer clarified that Denton only sued after seeking to handle the problem via internal school processes.

The counsel then told the Daily Caller: "[The lawsuit] could have been avoided if the university had the courage to stand up and say this was not right."