Updated Aug 18, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Federal judge halts part of Florida's "Stop WOKE Act"

Hand holding gavel about to hit a stop sign block.
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

A Florida law dubbed by Gov. Ron DeSantis as the "Stop WOKE Act" was hit with a double whammy on Thursday.

Driving the news: A federal judge suspended enforcement of the law's employer provisions as part of a lawsuit filed by Florida honeymoon registry company Honeyfund and workplace diversity consultancy Collective Concepts in June.

Catch up quick: The law ​​bans classroom discussion and corporate training that make students or employees feel discomfort over their race.

What they're saying: "Florida's legislators may well find plaintiffs' speech repugnant. But under our constitutional scheme, the remedy for repugnant speech is more speech, not enforced silence," wrote Mark Walker, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, in his ruling.

  • "If Florida truly believes we live in a post-racial society, then let it make its case. But it cannot win the argument by muzzling its opponents."

Meanwhile: The ACLU, ACLU of Florida, Legal Defense Fund and law firm Ballard Spahr filed a lawsuit Thursday on behalf of a group of Florida professors, ​arguing that "Stop WOKE" violates the Constitution's First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment.

Zoom in: University of South Florida law professor Dana Thompson Dorsey, a plaintiff in the suit, argues the law will negatively impact her upcoming graduate level courses, "School Law" and "Critical Race Studies: Research, Policy, and Praxis (Critical Race Studies)," by prohibiting discussion.

  • The University of South Florida Board of Trustees is named among the defendants along with the Florida Board of Governors of the State University System.

The other side: Renee Fargason, a spokesperson for the Florida Board of Governors of the State University System, and USF declined to comment to Axios on the pending litigation.

  • The Florida State Board of Education didn't immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

What to watch: Another federal suit, filed by a group of parents and educators minutes after DeSantis signed the bill in April, is still undecided.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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