Ron DeSantis’ ‘Stop Woke Act’ blocked again, law unable to be enforced

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WASHINGTON – Florida remains unable to enforce its “Stop Woke Act” pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis after a federal appeals court ruled against removing a temporary block on the legislation.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a preliminary injunction last year temporarily prohibiting the state from enforcing the law at colleges and universities. The state of Florida appealed the injunction and requested a stay, which would allow the state to continue enforcing the law until the appeal was resolved. Both requests were denied Thursday.

Tallahassee U.S. District Judge Mark Walker blocked enforcement of the law in November after ruling it was unconstitutional, arguing it violates the First and 14th Amendments as well as the Equal Protection Clause. Walker issued a similar ruling in August, preventing the law from taking effect in businesses. The law remains intact for K-12 schools.

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“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,” Walker wrote in the November order. “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.” 

What’s the ‘Stop WOKE Act’?

The Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act, also known as the Individual Freedom Act, is legislation that restricts how race is discussed in Florida schools, colleges and workplaces. The state Legislature approved the measure last March, and it was signed into law by DeSantis in April.

Under the law, schools and universities are prohibited from teachings that could make a student feel as if they personally bear responsibility for historic wrongs because of their race, color, sex or national origin. Businesses also are restricted from diversity practices or training that could make an employee feel similarly.

The law has sparked a nationwide debate about censorship, diversity training and critical race theory,  which is the study of examining the role racial discrimination has played in shaping American history and modern society.

Why are colleges offering more DEI degrees? Demand for diversity expertise is growing.

What’s next?

The state still faces several lawsuits, which were almost immediately after the bill passed, but no hearings have been scheduled.