Federal Judge Blocks Ron DeSantis’ ‘Positively Dystopian’ Stop WOKE Act

by | Nov 17, 2022 | Politics

Declaring it a “positively dystopian” assault on free speech, a U.S. district judge blocked enforcement of provisions of a Florida law banning state university professors from expressing certain opinions on topics related racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination in their classes on Thursday.The decision means that the leadership of Florida’s state university system cannot punish professors or instructors for violating the prohibition on the expression of eight viewpoints enacted by GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis and state legislative Republicans under the Individual Freedom Act of 2022.AdvertisementIn a blistering opinion that opens by quoting George Orwell’s classic anti-totalitarian novel “1984,” Judge Mark Walker, appointed by President Barack Obama, ruled that the law violated the First Amendment right of freedom of speech of both professors and students and the Fourteenth Amendment by being unconstitutionally vague.“In this case, the State of Florida lays the cornerstone of its own Ministry of Truth under the guise of the Individual Freedom Act, declaring which viewpoints shall be orthodox and which shall be verboten in its university classrooms,” Walker wrote. “[T]he First Amendment does not permit the State of Florida to muzzle its university professors, impose its own orthodoxy of viewpoints, and cast us all into the dark,” Walker concluded.The case focused on the law’s prohibition on the expression of eight different viewpoints related to race, sex, gender and sexual orientation by state university professors. The law, originally introduced by DeSantis as the Stop WOKE Act, was enacted as part of the governor’s culture war political agenda seeking to bend institutions from state universities, government bureaucracies and in-state corporations to the will of Republican politicians.AdvertisementThe enactment of policies like the Individual Freedom Act stems from a position espoused by the illiberal faction known as National Conservatives, whom DeSantis has linked himself to as he approaches the national political stage, that conservatives must first prioritize crushing liberal control of cultural resources like schools, universities and the entertainment industry, among other things.Calling it “positively dystopian,” a judge struck down the higher education provisions of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Individual Freedom Act, also dubbed the Stop WOKE Act bill, on Nov. 17.Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty ImagesOne thing standing in their way, as exemplified by Thursday’s decision against the Individual Freedom Act, is the First Amendment right to freedom of speech.In the joint cases of Pernell et. al. v. Florida Board of Governors o …

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