DeSantis’s ‘Stop WOKE Act’ is halted by Obama-appointed judge who compares it to a Netflix show

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis faced a legal setback Thursday as a federal judge blocked a recently enacted law restricting “woke idealogy” in the state.

Chief Judge Mark Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida issued his temporary ruling that restricts parts of the Individual Freedom Act (IFA) in a 44-page opinion that compared the Republican governor’s approach to free speech to a Netflix series.

“In the popular television series Stranger Things, the ‘upside down’ describes a parallel dimension containing a distorted version of our world. See Stranger Things (Netflix 2022). Recently, Florida has seemed like a First Amendment upside down,” Walker began in the first paragraph.

“Normally, the First Amendment bars the state from burdening speech, while private actors may burden speech freely. But in Florida, the First Amendment apparently bars private actors from burdening speech, while the state may burden speech freely,” he added.

Taking effect in July, the law known as the “Stop WOKE Act” was signed by DeSantis back in April and was aimed at banning critical race theory teaching in schools as well as various race and diversity pieces of training in workplaces.

“In Florida, we will not let the far-left woke agenda take over our schools and workplaces,” DeSantis said at the time he signed the law. “There is no place for indoctrination or discrimination in Florida.”

According to Politico:

A group of businesses — honeymoon registry technology company Honeyfund.com and Florida-based Ben & Jerry’s franchisee Primo Tampa, along with workplace diversity consultancy Collective Concepts and its co-founder Chevara Orrin — combined to challenge the “anti-woke” policies in federal court. They argued that the new law violates their freedom of speech, among other claims.

Attorneys for the companies, which are being represented by Protect Democracy and law firm Ropes & Gray, contend that the new policies force them to censor themselves “on important societal matters” and “from engaging employees in robust discussion of ideas essential for improving their workplaces.”

 

Walker agreed with the challenges, issuing the temporary injunction Thursday.

“Florida’s Legislators may well find Plaintiffs’ speech repugnant. But under our constitutional scheme, the ‘remedy’ for repugnant speech is more speech, not enforced silence,” the Obama-nominated judge wrote.

“If Florida truly believes we live in a post-racial society, then let it make its case,” Walker added. “But it cannot win the argument by muzzling its opponents.”

Another lawsuit challenging the law was filed on behalf of students and educators by the ACLU, ACLU of Florida, and Legal Defense Fund.

The left continues to push critical race theory and other diversity training while demonizing parents and others who criticize the progressive ideologies. Texas Democratic State Sen. Roland Gutierrez this week went so far as to compare the efforts to ban critical race theory in schools to Nazi Germany.

His criticisms came during a discussion about teacher shortages in Florida and Texas during an appearance on MSNBC on Wednesday where he complained about “a weak, watered-down CRT bill, in a special session, because [Texas Gov. Greg] Abbott said we have to do something about CRT.”

“These aren’t problems. But this is how bad things begin. And it’s how bad things may have begun historically,” he said on “The 11th Hour With Stephanie Ruhle.”

“It is how — it’s what happened in Nazi Germany. They began to burn books, they began to tell people how to think. That is what’s happening with people like Rick DeSantis [sic], people like Greg Abbott. People need to wake up. There is certainly a woke problem. But it’s the fact that people need to wake up as to what’s happening with these two leaders in this country,” he claimed.

Though DeSantis has not yet responded to the temporary ruling by the judge in Florida, it is more than likely the decision will be appealed as the governor has made it more than clear he will stand strong for families in the Sunshine State.

“We won’t allow Florida tax dollars to be spent teaching kids to hate our country or to hate each other. We also have a responsibility to ensure that parents have the means to vindicate their rights when it comes to enforcing state standards. Finally, we must protect Florida workers against the hostile work environment that is created when large corporations force their employees to endure CRT-inspired ‘training’ and indoctrination,” he said when announcing the WOKE Act last year.

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Frieda Powers

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