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Florida State University must pay ex-student leader in ouster for religious views, judge says

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A federal judge has ruled that Florida State University must pay the salary of a former campus Senate president who was ousted over his religious views.

U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor last week ordered FSU to make “prospective payment” for lost wages to former Student Senate President Jack Denton, a senior and political science major who was voted out by his colleagues in June over text messages he exchanged with other Catholic students.

Judge Winsor, a Trump appointee, said the university, which administers the student government, had violated Mr. Denton’s First Amendment rights by failing to protect him against retaliation for his protected speech and should resume paying his stipend until his term’s expiration in November.

“To state the obvious, expressing one’s religious views is a constitutionally protected activity. And being removed from a student Senate presidency, as Denton was, would chill someone from expressing himself,” the judge wrote in his 25-page preliminary ruling in the closely watched religious liberty case.

Judge Winsor compared Mr. Denton’s ouster to the Georgia state legislature refusing to seat newly elected lawmaker Julian Bond in 1966 over his criticism of the Vietnam War. A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled the legislature’s move unconstitutional.

“All students should be able to peacefully share their personal connections without fear of retaliation,” said Tyson Langhofer, an attorney with the nonprofit advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom who is representing Mr. Denton.

An FSU spokesperson wrote in email that school officials are reviewing the decision and “considering the university’s options.” An attorney for the Student Senate defendants did not respond to request for comment.

FSU pays the Student Senate president $9 an hour. Mr. Denton told the court that he estimated working six hours a week until the end of his term on Nov. 11. He is to be paid

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Public Views About Science in Sweden

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This roundup of findings shows public views about science-related issues and the role of science in Swedish society. The findings come from a Pew Research Center survey conducted across 20 publics in Europe, the Asia-Pacific, Russia, the U.S., Canada and Brazil from October 2019 to March 2020.

Ratings of medical treatments, scientific achievements and STEM education in Sweden

Majorities in most of the 20 publics surveyed saw their medical treatments in a favorable light on the eve of the global pandemic. Medical treatments were often seen more favorably than achievements in other areas.

Chart shows views on how Sweden compares on medical treatments, scientific achievements and other areas

Across the 20 publics, a median of 59% say their medical treatments are at least above average. In Sweden, 61% think their country’s medical treatments are the best in the world or above average. Only one-in-ten Swedes think their medical treatments are below average.

About six-in-ten Swedish adults (58%) view their technological achievements as above average or the best in the world, and 54% say this about their scientific achievements. Overall, 42% say their country’s university STEM education is the best in the world or above average, while a smaller share (24%) says this about STEM education at the primary and secondary school levels.

Chart shows attitudes about the value of government investments in scientific research in SwedenMajorities in all publics agree that being a world leader in scientific achievement is at least somewhat important, but the share who view this as very important varies by public. A 20-public median of 51% place the highest level of importance on being a science world leader. In Sweden, 41% of people say being a world leader in scientific achievements is very important.

Overall, there is broad agreement among these 20 publics that government investment in scientific research is worthwhile. A median of 82% say government investments in scientific research aimed at advancing knowledge are usually worthwhile