“Gov. Ron DeSantis is using his sway over the Republican-dominated Legislature to urge lawmakers to repeal state laws that offered additional legal rights to undocumented immigrants, protections that less than a decade ago were popular with many Florida Republicans, including DeSantis’ own lieutenant governor.”
“Included in DeSantis’ proposal is the repeal of a 2014 law sponsored by Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez when she was a member of the Florida House that offered out-of-state tuition vouchers to some eligible Dreamers, those brought to the United States illegally at a young age. It applied to Dreamers who attended a Florida high school for at least three years.”
“DeSantis’ proposal would also repeal a second law passed in 2014 with bipartisan support that allowed noncitizens to be admitted to the Florida Bar. The proposal was signed into law by Scott and got “yes” votes from Diaz, Nunez and Oliva. Simpson and Patronis, both of whom are seen as eyeing bids for governor in 2026, did not vote on the measure when legislators approved it on the House and Senate floors.
The law allows the Florida Supreme Court to admit noncitizens to the Florida Bar if they meet certain qualifications, including being brought to the United states as a minor and living in the country for a decade or longer. It was passed for José Manuel Godinez-Samperio, who came to the United States at age 9 with his mother and went on to graduate Florida State University College of Law with honors. He was in the House chamber when the bill passed and got direct shoutouts from Republican leadership at the time.”
“DeSantis is also pushing lawmakers to require all Florida employers to use the E-Verify system, a federal database that allows employers to check workers’ employment status. During DeSantis’ first term, he pushed for universal E-Verify but that was opposed by the state’s business lobby. The bill lawmakers approved only required public employers to use the system.”
“DeSantis’ immigration package also includes:
Making it a third-degree felony to “transport, conceal, or harbor illegal aliens,” and a second-degree felony if the person being transported is a minor.
Mandating that hospitals collect data on the immigration status of patients and submit reports on costs associated with providing care to undocumented immigrants.
Requiring people registering to vote check a box affirming they are U.S. citizens and Florida residents.
Prohibiting local governments from issuing ID cards to unauthorized aliens and invalidating out-of-state licenses issued to unauthorized aliens.”
“At the governor’s urging, Florida’s Republican-dominated Legislature is pushing to weaken state laws that have long protected journalists against defamation suits and frivolous lawsuits. The proposal is part DeSantis’ ongoing feud with media outlets like The New York Times, Miami Herald, CNN and The Washington Post — media companies he claims are biased against Republicans — as he prepares for a likely 2024 presidential bid.
Beyond making it easier to sue journalists, the proposal is also being positioned to spark a larger legal battle with the goal of eventually overturning New York Times v. Sullivan, the landmark 1964 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that limits public officials’ ability to sue publishers for defamation, according to state Rep. Alex Andrade, the Florida Republican sponsoring the bill.”
“the proposed bill goes further than simply decrying media bias. Free-press advocates call the measure unconstitutional and suggest it could have far-reaching consequences beyond major media outlets.
“I have never seen anything remotely like this legislation,” said Seth Stern, director of advocacy for the Freedom of the Press Foundation. “I can’t say I have seen every bill ever introduced, but I’d be quite surprised if any state Legislature had seriously considered such a brazen and blatantly unconstitutional attack on speech and press freedoms.”
He added: “This bill is particularly remarkable since its provisions have the vocal support of a governor and likely presidential candidate.”
DeSantis’ office said he “will make a decision on the merits of the bill in final form if and when it passes and is delivered to the governor’s office.””
“Andrade’s proposal incorporates many of the elements DeSantis called for during the roundtable, including:
— allowing plaintiffs who sue media outlets for defamation to collect attorneys fees;
— adding a provision to state law specifying that comments made by anonymous sources are presumed false for the purposes of defamation lawsuits;
— lowering the legal threshold for a “public figure” to successfully sue for defamation;
— repealing the “journalist’s privilege” section of state law, which protects journalists from being compelled to do things like reveal the identity of sources in court, for defamation lawsuits.
Stern said 49 states and several appellate circuits recognize a reporter’s privilege against court-compelled disclosure of source material and stressed that it’s essential for people to be able to speak to reporters without risking their jobs or freedoms.
“Journalists do not work for the government and it’s none of the government’s business how journalists gather news,” he added.
Andrade, however, said the privilege language in his bill would not allow a judge to force a journalist to reveal an anonymous source, but removes existing protections if they decide not to.”
““The law protects journalists from being ‘compelled’ by judges to disclose anonymous sources, but if a journalist has been sued for defamation, and wants to avoid liability, this section makes clear that they cannot claim a special privilege to avoid disclosing the source of the defamatory information and also avoid liability,” Andrade said.
Critics of the bill took issue with the section about attorneys fees, saying it could add a financial incentive to file defamation lawsuits and erode the laws preventing retaliatory lawsuits filed to silence criticism. Florida, like other states, has anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation) laws designed to help stop frivolous lawsuits.
“One of my largest concerns with the bill is the rolling back of the anti-SLAPP protection for defamation defendants,” said Adam Schulman, a senior attorney with the Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute, which advocates for free markets, free speech and limited governments. ”That’s just moving in the wrong direction.”
He said beyond large media companies, some of which have legal teams, the changes could affect the “ordinary guy” who leaves an “unfavorable Yelp review.”
“At one time, it was not considered ‘conservative’ to advocate for turning on the spigot to all sorts of troll-like civil litigation that will line the pockets of bottom-feeding plaintiffs’ lawyers,” Schulman said.
Stern said the new bill would leave those protections “toothless.” Under most anti-SLAPP laws, individuals can recover attorneys’ fees if they can show they were sued in retaliation for criticizing the government.”
“Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis floated two unconstitutional proposals that would lead to the US executing more people.
The first, which he suggested during an appearance before the Florida Sheriffs Association, was to allow juries to sentence someone to die even if the jury vote is not unanimous. “Fine, have a supermajority,” DeSantis said, adding that executions should be permitted if “maybe eight out of 12 or something” of a jury’s members vote for the death penalty.
The Supreme Court held in Ramos v. Louisiana (2020) that a jury must vote unanimously in order to convict someone of a “serious offense.” Meanwhile, the Court held in Hurst v. Florida (2016) that “the Sixth Amendment requires a jury, not a judge, to find each fact necessary to impose a sentence of death.” Read together, the cases leave little doubt that a jury’s decision to sentence someone to die must also be unanimous. (There is always some risk that the Court’s current majority will refuse to follow Ramos or Hurst, but neither of these cases divided the Court along ideological lines when they were decided.)
A few days after offering this first half-baked proposal, DeSantis spoke at the Miami Police Benevolent Association hall, where he not only reiterated that idea, but also laid out a broader agenda on crime that included expanding the death penalty to offenders who rape children. The Supreme Court explicitly rejected this expansion of the death penalty in Kennedy v. Louisiana (2008). Among other things, Kennedy warned that, if sexual assault of a child carried the same penalty as murder, that would endanger children because “a State that punishes child rape by death may remove a strong incentive for the rapist not to kill the victim.””
“A Florida law signed by DeSantis last March requires that all books available to children be “reviewed by a district employee holding a valid educational media specialist certificate,” such as the school librarian, since the state says teachers cannot be trusted to select appropriate texts for their students. This means that classroom libraries assembled by teachers violate the law, and parts of the state — up to one-third of the state’s counties, according to reporting from the New Yorker — have restricted access to all books until they could be reviewed.”
“DeSantis announced..that the state is blocking AP African American studies, a new class developed by the College Board, on the grounds that it is “a political agenda” and an example of “woke indoctrination.” The administration objected to certain topics contained in a draft framework for the course: queer theory, intersectionality, Black Lives Matter, reparations, prison abolition, and more.
At a press conference in January, DeSantis said the course is on “the wrong side of the line for Florida standards.” He added, “We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think, but we don’t believe they should have an agenda imposed on them. When you try to use Black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes.”
Florida rejected the course under its Stop WOKE Act (Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act), which took effect in July 2022 and bans schools and businesses from teaching anything that could make anyone feel “guilt, anguish or any form of psychological distress” because of their race, gender, sex, or national origin. Though a judge ordered a temporary injunction against parts of the law that limit conversations about race in public colleges and universities, the law remains mostly intact.”
“At the start of the year, DeSantis called for the elimination of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. The programs became required in 2020, ordered by a largely Republican-appointed board, while he was already in his second year as governor. A January 31 order from DeSantis prohibits higher education institutions from using any funding, no matter the source, to support DEI or critical race theory — the besieged academic framework that says racism is systemic — and anything else the administration considers “discriminatory initiatives.””
“DeSantis wants school leaders to review course material. On January 31, he announced that the State University System Board of Governors and the State Board of Education must review general education core courses to make sure that they are historically accurate, “foundational,” and “career relevant.” The administration has not publicly explained what “foundational” or “career relevant” means. The boards must also ensure that core classes don’t “suppress or distort” historical events or include “identity politics” in their curriculum.
The governor also wants to require schools to give priority to “graduating students with degrees that lead to high-wage jobs, not degrees designed to further a political agenda,” but hasn’t specified which degrees they are referring to. His proposed overhaul would also mandate courses in Western civilization.”
“DeSantis urged schools to bypass their tenure systems to conduct post-tenure reviews of faculty members “at any time with cause.” “They can be let go if they’re not performing to expectations,” he observed, adding that “the most significant dead-weight cost to a university is unproductive tenured faculty.” He also empowered school presidents and boards to “take ownership” of their hiring and retention decisions without interference from unions or faculty committees.”
“DeSantis is staging what’s being called a “hostile takeover” of the New College of Florida, a small school in Sarasota. As part of his 2023-2024 budget recommendations, DeSantis wants to spend $100 million to recruit and retain faculty members at Florida’s state universities, and in addition, he wants to allocate another $15 million to “overhaul and restructure” the New College of Florida.”
“The College Board is a nonprofit organization that administers college entrance exams and develops Advanced Placement (AP) courses for high school students that earn them college credits. They’ve developed a pilot program for an African American Studies class that they plan to launch in 60 schools across the U.S. over the next school year. They did intend for one Florida school to offer the class. They hope to start offering the class in all high schools by the 2024–25 school year and begin administering exams in spring 2025. High school students who pass those exams would earn college credit for taking the class.
Florida’s Department of Education looked at the class, and flat-out rejected it, with officials saying it would indoctrinate students with “a political agenda” and lacked educational value. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Press Secretary Bryan Griffin* said, “As submitted, the course is a vehicle for a political agenda and leaves large, ambiguous gaps that can be filled with additional ideological material, which we will not allow.”
Well, it is a history class, after all. Once you get past the names and dates, history studies political agendas and ideology. Certainly, that would have to be the case for a black history class in America.”
“No AP class is mandatory. Parents and students can decide whether they want to it.”
“DeSantis. In his 2023–24 budget, announced on Wednesday, the governor requested $12 million to continue his “initiative to protect Floridians against the harms resulting from illegal immigration by facilitating the transport of unauthorized aliens.” The $12 million would be used “to cover all costs associated with facilitating the transport of inspected unauthorized aliens, including, but not limited to the costs of litigation.”
The request mirrors a provision in the 2022–23 budget that funded “a program to facilitate the transport of unauthorized aliens from this state consistent with federal law” (emphasis added). This time, DeSantis wants to transport migrants “from any point of origin in the U.S. to any jurisdiction.” Spending taxpayer money to protect Floridians, in other words, need not involve anything actually taking place in Florida.”
“Conservative government scolds in Florida are making good on a Christmas threat against an Orlando performance venue and are trying to revoke its liquor license because it let minors attend a bawdy drag show with their parents.
Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation filed an administrative complaint Friday against the Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation, which operates The Plaza Live theater in Orlando. In December, The Plaza Live hosted A Drag Queen Christmas, a touring stage show of risqué drag performances with holiday themes.”
“For naughty Christmas lyrics, the state is threatening a business’s liquor license. The complaint charges six counts of violating state indecency regulations, all based on allowing children to attend.
The scant photo evidence the state includes in the complaint further substantiates the claim that the war on drag queens is a politically driven moral panic. To the extent that the show is indeed sexual, as with any other form of entertainment with adult content, parents and venues are well-equipped to decide for themselves whether to bring their children. It’s not a role the state should be deciding, and in so many other cases, the state does not.
Despite making a big deal about supporting parents’ rights in education, Gov. Ron DeSantis does not think parents should have the right to decide what kind of entertainment their children should consume.”
“Florida State Sen. Jeff Brandes (R–St. Petersburg), who shepherded the bill implementing Amendment 4, tweeted last week that the Legislature never intended it to be used so harshly against those who accidentally voted.”
“”As the author of the bill implementing amend 4 it was our intent that those ineligible would be granted some grace by the state if they registered without intent to commit voter fraud. Some of the individuals did check with SOEs and believed they could register. #Intentmatters””
“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a leading presidential contender, is skilled at appealing to Republicans who resent the censorious self-righteousness of woke progressives. But instead of defending free inquiry and open debate, DeSantis seems bent on fighting intolerance with intolerance.
When he signed the Individual Freedom Act (IFA) last April, DeSantis bragged that it would “prevent discriminatory instruction in the workplace,” striking a blow against “the far-left woke agenda.” But as a federal judge explained last week, the law’s restrictions on employee training blatantly violate the First Amendment.
The IFA expanded Florida’s definition of “unlawful employment practices” to include “any required activity” that promotes one or more of eight forbidden concepts. Some of those ideas are plainly illiberal (e.g., linking moral status to race) or patently silly (e.g., viewing virtues such as excellence, hard work, and fairness as white supremacist constructs), while others are ambiguous or debatable (e.g., the notion that “members of one race, color, sex, or national origin cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race, color, sex, or national origin”).
Whatever you think of those ideas, the government has no business decreeing whether and how they can be discussed in private workplaces. Yet that is what the IFA does: It allows discussion “in an objective manner without endorsement of the concepts” while forbidding speech that “espouses, promotes, advances, [or] inculcates” them.
As U.S. District Judge Mark Walker noted when he issued a preliminary injunction against those restrictions, they amount to “a naked viewpoint-based regulation on speech,” which is presumptively unconstitutional. “Under our constitutional scheme,” Walker observed, “the ‘remedy’ for repugnant speech ‘is more speech, not enforced silence.'”
DeSantis argued that the IFA aims to prevent a “hostile work environment” created by ideas that might discomfit employees. Walker thought that was a stretch because that term encompasses speech only when it is “both objectively and subjectively offensive and when it is sufficiently severe or pervasive”—requirements that provide “shelter for core protected speech.”
More to the point, conservatives have long criticized discrimination claims based on an allegedly hostile work environment precisely because they can transform otherwise protected speech into illegal “harassment.” Yet DeSantis is not only defending that concept; he is extending it to cover even a single “required activity” that “espouses” ideas he does not like.”