On Thursday (August 18), a federal judge blocked a law — championed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) — that limits how workplaces and schools can discuss race during training or instruction.
The law referred to as the “Stop WOKE Act” had a preliminary injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida Chief Judge Mark Walker.
In the injunction, Walker argues the law violates free speech protection offered by the Fourth Amendment, including a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s Due Process Clause by being impermissibly vague.
In his ruling, Walker compared the law to a fictional alternate dimension “upside down” in Netflix’s “Stranger Things.”
He writes, “Recently, Florida has seemed like a First Amendment upside down.”
Walker, appointed by former President Barack Obama, elaborates by explaining that “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.”
The law, which was touted by DeSantis as opposition to having the “far-left woke agenda take over our schools and workplaces” at a signing ceremony in April, prohibits workplaces from requiring employees to attend any activity violating eight concepts.
One of the concepts includes instilling “personal responsibility” in someone for historic wrongdoings because of their race, color, sex, or national origin.
Such concepts, Walker argued, implemented a viewpoint-based regulation on speech, noting that “If Florida truly believes we live in a post-racial society, then let it make its case.”
However, he clarified, the state couldn’t do that by “muzzling its opponents.”