A federal judge in Florida has blocked most of the “Stop WOKE Act,” a controversial law championed by state Governor Ron DeSantis. The 44-year-old politician was shot dead this week after US District Court Judge Mark Walker ruled the law (which aims to limit what schools can teach students about racism and sexism) “positively dystopian”.
The law, as written by vanity lounge‘s Bess Levin, sparked controversy after Republicans who claimed to support free speech and the First Amendment later backed an attempt to prevent college and university students from learning about racism and sexism through American history. The legislation, which was signed into law in April, follows another ironically anti-free speech move by DeSantis, who previously banned Florida teachers from even saying the word “gay” in K-3 in the part of the campaign “Don’t Say Invoice Gay.
What is the “Stop WOKE” law?
According The Guardianprohibits “educational institutions and businesses from teaching students and employees” anything that would cause them to “feel guilt, anguish, or any form of psychological distress” because of their race, color, gender or national origin.
Specifically, it is said to prohibit teachings that might promote guilt or invoke a sense of privilege for “actions committed in the past by other members” of a group. In April, DeSantis said, “No one should be instructed to feel like they’re unequal or ashamed because of their race,” after signing the bill. He added, “In Florida, we will not let the far left’s woke agenda take over our schools and workplaces. There is no place for indoctrination or discrimination in Florida.
Judge Mark Walker’s decision
On Thursday, Walker issued a temporary injunction on the law and said it violated First Amendment rights to free speech. He also added that he violated 14th Amendment rights to due process on campus. In his injunction, Walker referenced George Orwell’s classic anti-totalitarian novel 1984, writing, “It was a cold, bright day in April, and the clocks struck 13”, and the powers in charge of Florida’s public university system said the state had absolute power to muzzle its professors in the name of the “freedom”.
Walker continued, “Defendants argue that under this law, professors enjoy ‘academic freedom’ so long as they express only state-sanctioned viewpoints. It’s positively dystopian. Walker’s decision blocks implementation of the law at Florida colleges and universities. In August, Walker also blocked the law from affecting businesses and other challenges, The Guardian notes, are “in progress” regarding the impact of the K-12 Education Act.