Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis pushed for an anti-woke law but a federal judge got in the way. Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled that Florida cannot enforce a crucial aspect of the new state law. The law, which Governor Ron DeSantis describes as “woke” workplace training on race, was intended to restrict race-based conversation.
“In the popular television series Stranger Things, the ‘upside down’ describes a parallel dimension containing a distorted version of our world,” Judge Walker, who was named by former President Barack Obama, said in a statement. “Recently, Florida has seemed like a First Amendment upside down.”
DeSantis cited critical race theory as an example of a “pernicious” ideology that perpetuates white dominance in society through systemic racism within American institutions. The conservative community mostly sees critical race theory as a divisive ideological doctrine derived from Marxism and not as an academic inquiry into truths and histories, said USA Today.
But the federal judge granted a temporary injunction on the grounds that it’s a violation of the First Amendment. In addition, Walker claimed that the new law, as it applies to diversity, inclusion, and bias training in businesses, violates the First Amendment by banning some topics from any discussion.
The decision was part of one of three lawsuits challenging the Stop Woke act. According to the lawsuit, private entities, including Clearwater-based Honeyfund.com, are being curtailed in their free speech rights due to the law’s violations of company training programs emphasizing diversity, inclusion, eradicating bias, and preventing workplace harassment. Such practices could result in civil lawsuits for companies with 15 or more employees.
The group of businesses that sued the state hailed the ruling as a “major victory for free speech.” But that victory may not last long as the DeSantis administration will certainly appeal. In numerous remarks, Rn DeSantis stated that any loss he might experience at the lower court level would likely be reversed by an appellate court that would be more conservative.
The Republican-led Florida legislature passed the “anti-woke” legislation, FL HB 7 (22R) earlier this year, and DeSantis supported it. As a result, schools and businesses are prohibited from guilting or blaming students and employees based on race or gender in Florida, and new protections are created for students and workers to avoid lessons on issues such as “white privilege.” As part of this policy, no person should be instructed to “feel guilty, anxious, or any other form of psychological distress” due to their race, color, gender, or nationality.
This year, DeSantis is running for re-election as governor, and he is widely perceived as a potential presidential candidate in 2024. Cultural issues have played a prominent role in his administration, including stifling so-called “woke” organizations and philosophies that focus on discrimination based on race, gender, and sexuality.
As part of DeSantis’ priorities, other lawsuits are challenging abortion after 15 weeks, a new law enacting new crimes after the Black Lives Matter protests, a measure for high-tech companies if they “deplatform” political candidates based on their views, and a new election law.