Federal Judge Mark Walker put a major roadblock in front of the Stop-WOKE Act in Florida.
The ruling means that the Republican goal to suppress race and gender education has effectively met its demise, according to Politico. Judge Walker determined policies from the Individual Freedom Act violate First Amendment free speech protections along with due-process rights in the 14th Amendment on college campuses.
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen,’ and the powers in charge of Florida’s public university system have declared the State has unfettered authority to muzzle its professors in the name of ‘freedom,” Walker said, referencing George Orwell’s novel “1984.”
Initially, the Individual Freedom Act propagated by Gov. Ron DeSantis broadened Florida’s anti-discrimination laws to ban schools and companies from essentially making people feel guilty for anything based on their race, color, sex or nationality. Florida’s legislature approved the act earlier this year. This meant that educational institutions were forced to stop talking about things that were inherently racist in U.S. history like slavery and the various instances regarding systemic racism. Concepts such as white privilege were not discussed in schools.
The ruling stems from two different objections to the Stop-WOKE Act that were heard. Other legal objections have to do with K-12 schools and workplaces.
One of the lawsuits’ plaintiffs was the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, a group for college free speech. It alleged that the legislation promoted by DeSantis violates their first amendment rights, evidenced by how it could restrict lessons on important historical moments and figures like Jackie Robinson, who transcended the race barrier in professional baseball.
The other lawsuit, filed by the ACLU of Florida and Legal Defense Fund, claimed that “discriminatory classroom censorship law that severely restricts” how concepts such as race and gender can be discussed in environments such as the classroom.
The Floridian Republican party was not pleased with this decision. DeSantis’ spokesperson Bryan Griffin said, “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.”