A Florida judge Thursday granted a prelim injunction on provisions in the “Stop The Woke Act,” a bill passed and signed into law this past April by Florida governor Ron DeSantis.
The law would restrict race-based teaching in schools, and private companies from employing mandatory inclusion training. Companies with approximately twenty employees or less, could find themselves slapped with lawsuits for violating said law.
Allegedly, the law is in response to Republican sensitivity to so-called “Wokeism” – CRT, anti-racism, and awareness of social and discriminatory issues facing gay and trans individuals – pushed by liberals and progressives who want to make white people ( i.e. conservatives ) feel guilty for their privilege.
In his opinion on the ruling – Chief US District judge, Mark Walker – said the law violates free speech, and described it as being similar to the popular Netflix series, Stranger Things.
"In the popular television series Stranger Things, the 'upside down' describes a parallel dimension containing a distorted version of our world," he wrote. "Recently, Florida has seemed like a first amendment upside down.
"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.
"Now, like the heroine in Stranger Things, this court is once again asked to pull Florida back from the upside down. Before this court is a motion for a preliminary injunction asking this court to enjoin a host of government officials from enforcing portions of the Freedom Act - a law that prohibits employers from endorsing any of the eight concepts during any mandatory employment activity. Because the challenged provision of the Act is a naked viewpoint-based regulation on speech that does not pass strict scrutiny,the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction is granted in part."
The nonprofit group Protect Democracy filed the suit in June on behalf of Honeyfund, and a Ben & Jerry franchise called Primo Tampa. Both companies wished to employ training that the law would prohibit.
“If Florida truly believes we live in a post racial society, then let it make it’s case,” judge Walker said. “But it cannot win the argument by muzzling it’s opponents.”
“This vague law violates the first and fourteenth amendments by prohibiting the expression of viewpoints disfavored by government officials and chilling a wide range of speech in the workplace,” Shalini Goel Agarwal, counsel at Protect Democracy said via statement.
“We look forward to proceeding to trail, winning, and seeing this law permanently overturned. It is a direct attack on American free speech values, as well as free enterprise in Florida.”
The governor’s office plans to appeal the decision. “Judge Walker has effectively ruled that companies have a first amendment right to instruct their employees in white supremacy,” communications director, Taryn Fenske said. “We disagree and will be appealing his decision.”
Apparently Republicans are unable to distinguish between private businesses and government when it comes to first amendment issues.
Sources: Business Insider, The Hill, The Week,