GOP State Senator's son sues Republican House Speaker, claims free speech violation over Capitol office ban
Seum, the son of Sen. Dan Seum, a Fairdale Republican and the Senate GOP caucus chairman, argues he was not given an opportunity to respond to the allegations and there was no "proper" investigation, according to the suit.
LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – The son of a prominent Republican state Senator has filed a federal lawsuit against GOP House Speaker Jeff Hoover, claiming his First Amendment rights were violated after he was banned from the third floor of the Capitol Annex for allegedly making racially charged comments.
Dan Seum Jr., a medical marijuana advocate, sued Hoover and Legislative Research Commission Director David Byerman in U.S. District Court last Thursday. Seum claims he no longer is able to properly lobby state lawmakers because “the ban was unilaterally and arbitrarily imposed in retaliation for his communication of political ideas.”
Seum, the son of Sen. Dan Seum, a Fairdale Republican and the Senate GOP caucus chairman, argues he was not given an opportunity to respond to the allegations and there was no “proper” investigation, according to the suit.
Seum was informed of his ban by a letter saying that after checking into the lobby on Feb. 17, he engaged in a “racially-charged monologue” that included references to "coloreds" and "negroes," according to a copy of the letter filed with the lawsuit. The letter says an African-American employee of the Legislative Research Commission was seated a few feet from Seum and was distressed by the comments.
“You attempted to justify your comments by claiming they described common sentiments during the 1930’s,” the letter states.
The lawsuit claims Seum was talking with others in the Capitol lobby and referenced a quote from Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who once said that “most marijuana smokers are colored people,” according to the suit.
Seum, the suit claims, was explaining the history of the criminalization of cannabis in the county and used Anslinger’s quote to illustrate the “widely held racial and ethnic biases” of the government agenda at that time.
The Anslinger quote from the 1930s goes on to say that “satanic music” by jazz musicians “is driven by marijuana” and the drug causes “insanity, criminality, and death.”
Seum, who is veterans and legislative affairs director for Kentuckians for Medicinal Marijuana, alleges he was never questioned about the incident before the “unequivocal and permanent” ban from the third floor, where state legislators’ offices are housed. He also claims the people he was speaking with were not interviewed for the investigation.
The story, first reported by The Courier-Journal and picked up by media across the country, noted the allegations against Seum were “substantiated,” subjecting Seum to “widespread condemnation,” according to the suit.
Attorney Jeffrey Freeman, who filed the suit on behalf of Seum, requests a judge to prohibit the ban from being enforced and is seeking unspecified monetary damages.
A spokeswoman for Hoover, R-Jamestown,said he had not yet seen the lawsuit and declined to comment. A spokesman for Byerman said he could not comment on pending litigation. Claims made in filing a lawsuit present only one side of the case.
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