A 'positively dystopian' violation: Judge strikes down DeSantis' anti-woke attack on free speech

A 'positively dystopian' violation: Judge strikes down DeSantis' anti-woke attack on free speech
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking at the Nebraska Steak Fry in Nebraska City, Nebraska (Wikimedia Commons)

A federal judge with the U.S. District Court for Florida's Northern District has delivered an order blocking a section of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R) Stop WOKE Act.

According to Business Insider, the controversial provision sought to restrict certain aspects of free speech on college campuses across the state.

On Thursday, November 17, Chief US District Judge Mark Walker laid out a 138-page order that condemned the Florida governor's attempt to place certain restrictions on individuals' views regarding race and gender. According to Walker, the attempt is "positively dystopian" and a violation of free speech.

READ MORE: How Ron DeSantis’ badly gerrymandered congressional map helped Republicans flip the House: report

Per the news outlet, the bill, which was signed into law back in April, "would limit how schools and workplaces discuss race and gender, as well as the way private companies conduct diversity, equity, and inclusion training."

Addressing the section of the law designed to restrict college faculty, students, and guest speakers on campuses, Walker said "the State of Florida has taken over the 'marketplace of ideas' to suppress disfavored viewpoints and limit where professors may shine their light on eight specific ideas."

"Our professors are critical to a healthy democracy, and the State of Florida's decision to choose which viewpoints are worthy of illumination and which must remain in the shadows has implications for us all. If our 'priests of democracy' are not allowed to shed light on challenging ideas, then democracy will die in darkness," Walker wrote. "But the First Amendment does not permit the State of Florida to muzzle its university professors, impose its own orthodoxy of viewpoints, and cast us all into the dark."

DeSantis' office has already stated that it plans to file an appeal. The governor's press secretary Bryan Griffin said, "This recent ruling included several victories for our legal team. We expect many more and ultimately to prevail in this litigation.

READ MORE: How Ron DeSantis wields 'a tremendous amount of power' over Florida politics: 'Cross him once, you’re dead'

"We strongly disagree with Judge Walker's preliminary injunction orders on the enforcement of the Stop W.O.K.E. Act and will continue to fight to prevent Florida's students and employees from being subjected to discriminatory classroom instruction or mandated discriminatory workplace training."

Griffin also argued the piece of legislation "protects the open exchange of ideas by prohibiting teachers or employers who hold agency over others from forcing discriminatory concepts on students as part of classroom instruction or on employees as a condition of maintaining employment."

The decision follows a previous ruling suspending the enforcement of another section of the law that was specific to companies with more than 15 employees. That section was also described as a free speech violation.

READ MORE: 'This is positively dystopian': Florida judge strikes down censorship law championed by Ron DeSantis

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