On Thursday, a federal appeals court upheld a district judge’s ruling which blocked several parts of the Florida law known as the “Stop WOKE Act.”
As reported by the Daily Caller, the decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the ruling in November of 2022 by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker which first blocked portions of the law due to what he considered to be anti-free speech elements.
The legislation, first introduced in 2021 and signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), imposed penalties on public university professors who teach about racial subjects in a way that encourages guilt, blame, or animosity towards another race, with such professors facing the possibility of being fired. The law soon faced backlash from left-wing organizations who accused the law of restricting First Amendment rights, and lawsuits were filed against the law by representatives of the University of South Florida (USF) and the far-left American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
In his initial decision, Walker described the law as “positively dystopian,” adding that “it should go without saying that if liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
The DeSantis Administration issued a statement defending the law, declaring that “the Stop W.O.K.E. Act 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.”
“An ‘open-minded and critical’ environment necessitates that one is free from discrimination,” the statement added.
The ruling marks one of the biggest legislative setbacks yet for DeSantis, especially as he is the center of speculation that he may run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, where he would be challenging popular former President Donald Trump.