Pro-life student sues medical school
Austin Clark says the trouble started when he invited a pro-life speaker to campus
In November 2018, Austin Clark was a second-year medical student at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. He was also the president of the campus groups Medical Students for Life and Christian Medical and Dental Association, and he invited a Christian speaker to the campus to give a talk about when life begins. But then, he said, fliers announcing the event disappeared. The school asked Clark to pay for security even though it typically did not make that request of other student groups. After the event, the school started limiting where students could post announcements for speakers. According to a recently filed lawsuit
against school administrators, Clark said that event marked the beginning of a series of discriminatory actions against him as a pro-life student.
According to the lawsuit: 1) After a disagreement with one instructor during his third year, the instructor refused to meet with Clark in his office and would only speak to him through the doorway as Clark sat in a chair in the hall. The lawsuit claims the school singled him out in other ways; 2) The assistant dean required him to sign a “professionalism contract”—a document that, according to his complaint, other students were not required to sign; 3) Other instructors gave him failing grades despite previous assertions that he was exceeding expectations; 4) In summer 2020, a committee dismissed him from the school and gave him no opportunity to appeal his case.
Clark filed his lawsuit against the school in July. He claims the university violated his First Amendment right to free speech and his 14th Amendment right to due process and equal protection under the law. He is asking the court to order the school to reinstate him as a student and allow him to graduate. He and his attorney, Tim Denison, are waiting for the defendants to file their responses.
“While it is on its face a David and Goliath-type situation, the court can implement whatever safeguards it believes is necessary to conduct the orderly administration of the case and to avoid any kind of repressive motions or actions by any party,” Denison said. “I think it’s going to lead to a ground-breaking decision, and I fully expect Austin to prevail.” In response to my request for comment, the University of Louisville said it is “not able to comment on pending litigation.”
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