Florida is ‘upside down’ from ‘Stranger Things’ due to education law, federal judge says
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — Federal Judge Mark Walker has ruled on a lawsuit to block Florida’s Stop WOKE Act, which must separate Florida from the “upside down” of hit Netflix show Stranger Things. I said no. He issued an injunction against the state, partially blocking the enforcement of the law.
Walker said Florida has become “a First Amendment turned upside down.” He went on to say that the application of the free speech protections in Florida’s recent U.S. Constitution prevented “states from free to burden speech, but private citizens to burden speech.” He explained that it is used to
“This court is again being asked to pull Florida back from upside down,” Walker wrote in the preliminary injunction. “This court is a petition for a preliminary injunction asking this court to hold many government officials from enforcing parts of the individual liberties law.”
The opinion focused on a lawsuit challenging the enactment of House Bill 7, in which the Florida government promulgated critical race theory in K-12 public schools and state colleges in exchange for protecting free speech. It states that it is a state law prohibiting teaching. The freedom of speech of residents and businesses is burdened.
As Walker defined, the law “prohibits employers from endorsing any of the eight concepts during mandatory employment activities”.
A federal judge has described the challenged portion of HB 7 as “naked perspective-based regulation of speech that fails to pass rigorous scrutiny.” As a result, Walker granted part of the plaintiff’s motion by Honeyfund.com, Inc. and others as a preliminary injunction.
As previously reported, HB 7 prohibits students or employees, or individuals, “as a condition of employment, membership, certification, license, qualification, or passing an examination”, “endorsing, Encourages, advances, indoctrinates, or compels an individual to believe in any of the following concepts:
- Members of one race, color, gender, or nationality are morally superior to another
- Individuals are racist, sexist, or oppressive in nature, consciously or unconsciously, by race, color, gender, or national origin.
- The moral character or status of a privileged or oppressed individual is necessarily determined by that person’s race, color, sex, or national origin.
- People cannot and should not treat others without respect for their race, color, gender, or national origin.
- Individuals should be held accountable and discriminated against or treated unfavorably for actions previously committed by other members of the same race, color, gender, or nationality.
- Individuals should not be discriminated against because of their race, color, gender or national origin, and should be treated unfavorably in order to achieve diversity, equity or inclusion.
- An individual bears personal responsibility and is held personally accountable for actions previously committed by other members of the same race, color, gender, or nationality, in which the individual was not involved, resulting in feelings of guilt, distress, or Other forms of psychological distress must be felt
- Virtues such as merit, excellence, diligence, fairness, neutrality, objectivity, and racial colorblindness are either racist or sexist, Created to oppress another member by gender, or nationality.
Walker calls these regulations challenged by plaintiffs “prohibited concepts.” In addition to the effect of “overhauling” Florida’s education law, Walker’s opinion also raises questions about how it will affect diversity and inclusion training for private employers.
In the injunction, the judge said HB 7 was “too vague and broad” and “a point-of-view restriction on speech presumed to violate the First Amendment.”
The defendants in the lawsuit, Governor Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and the Florida Commission on Human Relations, have all been sued in public capacity. DeSantis defends before and after that passage. The governor himself introduced the law before Congress in 2022, calling it the “Stop WOKE Act.”
Officials named as defendants filed motions to dismiss the action, which Walker refused. Walker partially granted the preliminary injunction by applying a suspension to the law, but the state could appeal his decision, which could remove the automatic suspension.