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Florida “Stop WOKE Act” Remains On Hold As Appeals Court Refuses To Lift Lower Court Injunction

Florida “Stop WOKE Act” Remains On Hold As Appeals Court Refuses To Lift Lower Court Injunction

DeSantis – as predicted – found a method likely more legally effective than addressing who can teach what – defunding departments and programs.

Last time we checked in on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “Stop Woke Act” was in the context of a federal district court permitting the gathering of information about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programmings in Florida public universities.

Litigants opposing such data gathering had argued that collecting such information violated an injunction the Court had granted against the Stop Woke Act, DeSantis Permitted To Gather Data On “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” in Public Universities, Judge Rules:

DeSantis signed The Stop Woke Act probibiting certain employment practices by private corporations, particularly the types of race-shaming tactics that have become common, as well as the training in and teaching of these race-shaming theories in public higher ed.

In August 2022, Federal Judge Mark Walker in the Northern District of Florida, issued an injunction against the portion of the law that applied to private busineses, finding the law was overly broad. DeSantis vowed to appeal.

In December 2022, after a complaint and motion for preliminary injunction filed by the ACLU on behalf of university professors and students, Walker also enjoined the provisions applicable to public universities. In an opinion in the style all too common today throughout the judiciary, where judges play for the inevitable media coverage, Walker quoted George Orwell in the opening sentence ….

The State has filed with the 11th Circuit for a stay of the injunction pending appeal, to which the ACLU has responded and the State replied several days ago. So we may hear soon from the 11th Circuit if Judge Walker’s injunction continues pending appeal.

The 11th Circuit ruled today, denying without opinion the request for a stay:

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund issued a statement celebebrating the court ruling:

 “We are heartened by the court’s decision to leave in place the preliminary injunction issued by the federal court in November,” said Alexsis Johnson, assistant counsel of the Legal Defense Fund. “Institutions of higher education in Florida should have the ability to provide a quality education, which simply cannot happen when students and educators, including Black students and educators, feel they cannot speak freely about their lived experiences, or when they feel that they may incur a politician’s wrath for engaging in a fact-based discussion of our history.”

The court’s refusal to lift the injunction during appeal could bolster similar challenges to classroom censorship efforts in Florida, and other states. Currently the ACLU has challenged similar classroom censorship laws in Oklahoma, which was the first federal lawsuit challenging one of these bills, and in New Hampshire, and awaits rulings in both cases.  

Since the original district court litigation, DeSantis – as predicted – found a method likely more legally effective than addressing who can teach what – defunding departments and programs. It’s what I predicted in the prior post once DeSantis started gathering information:

The request for information did not require the institutions to do anything more than report information, though it seems obvious that DeSantis is likely to gut the DEI bureaucracies, which would seem a way to achieve part of what The Stop Woke Act was intended to do. Terminating administrative positions, or cutting funding, would not implicate — or at least not directly — the First Amendment concerns that applied to what faculty could teach.

Is the federal court really going to micro-manage the Florida state higher education budgets and tell the state it cannot cut back on the number of Assistant and Associate Deans for DEI, and various underlings in the bureaucracy? Maybe, but that’s a big stretch, much more so than telling the state it cannot dictate what professors say in class. Cutting back or eliminating the DEI bureaucracy also would be more effective than telling professors what to teach, since the DEI campus machinery reaches all aspects of student life, not just coursework.

And so it has come to pass, with DeSantis announcing plans to gut the budgets for DEI in public universities, and shuttering the DEI department at New College. That strategy is spreading to some other red states, including Texas, where pernicious DEI statements are being banned from the hiring process.


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smalltownoklahoman | March 16, 2023 at 9:27 pm

This is what is needed: people in positions of power dedicated to fighting back and fighting back effectively against these various agendas! When they got their injunction Desantis didn’t curl up into a ball, cry, and give up. Instead he found another way, one that likely will stand up to being challenged, and got things done.

Perhaps it should have been called the “Resist Marxist Oppression Act”

Steven Brizel | March 17, 2023 at 9:11 am

De Santis is a superb governor and also has superb advocates for his causes and legislation who will argue that there was no basis for the injunction at the 11th Cir,. and if necessary SCOTUS levels

This is the primary fight of our time