Appeals court slams Florida’s ‘Stop-Woke’ law for committing ‘greatest First Amendment sin’

““By limiting its restrictions to a list of ideas designated as offensive, the Act targets speech based on its content,” Judge Britt C. Grant, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, wrote in the opinion. “And by barring only speech that endorses any of those ideas, it penalizes certain viewpoints — the greatest First Amendment sin.”

Florida’s Republican-led Legislature passed the “anti-woke” legislation, FL HB 7 (22R), or the Individual Freedom Act, in 2022 with the backing of DeSantis. It expanded Florida’s anti-discrimination laws to prohibit schools and companies from leveling guilt or blame to students and employees based on race or sex, taking aim at lessons over issues like “white privilege” by creating new protections for students and workers, including that a person should not be instructed to “feel guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress” due to their race, color, sex or national origin.”

“The DeSantis administration, though, pushed back on the appeals ruling, claiming that the court “has held that companies have a right to indoctrinate their employees with racist and discriminatory ideologies.” The state is “reviewing all options on appeal going forward.”

“We disagree with the Court’s opinion that employers can require employees to be taught — as a condition of employment — that one race is morally superior to another race,” Jeremy Redfern, press secretary for DeSantis, said in a statement. “The First Amendment protects no such thing, and the State of Florida should have every right to protect Floridians from racially hostile workplaces.”

Attorneys for the state and DeSantis have argued in court that the “anti-woke” law restricts no speech and only regulates that employers can’t force employees to listen to “certain speech against their will” at the risk of losing their jobs.

The appeals court disagreed, going into detail in the 22-page ruling about potential faults in the law. The panel of judges suggested that, under the proposed policies, “a government could ban riding on a parade float if it did not agree with the message on the banner.”

“We cannot agree, and we reject this latest attempt to control speech by recharacterizing it as conduct,” wrote Grant, who was joined by Judges Charles Wilson and Andrew Brasher. “Florida may be exactly right about the nature of the ideas it targets. Or it may not. Either way, the merits of these views will be decided in the clanging marketplace of ideas rather than a codebook or a courtroom.”” court slams Florida’s ‘Stop-Woke’ law for committing ‘greatest First Amendment sin’04/desantis-woke-law-court-00144801

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