A federal judge on Thursday blocked a new state law backed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that restricts how educators teach race-related concepts in public schools or as it applies to workplace training, reports The Hill.
Tallahassee U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said in a 44-page ruling that HB 7 bill, also known as the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees, violates the First Amendment and is impermissibly vague. Walker also refused to issue a stay that would keep the law in effect during any appeal by the state.
"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," Walker wrote 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."
Florida honeymoon registry company Honeyfund and workplace diversity consultancy Collective Concepts in June sued the state to block the bill – DeSantis, a Republican, signed the bill into law in April and it went into effect in July.
It prohibits teaching or business practices that contend members of one ethnic group are inherently racist and should feel guilt for past actions committed by others. It also bars the notion that a person's status as privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by their race or gender, or that discrimination is acceptable to achieve diversity.
The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Florida, the Legal Defense Fund and a national law firm on Thursday filed a lawsuit challenging the law, saying it is a violation of the First and 14th Amendments.
"All educators and students have a right to teach and learn free from censorship or discrimination," said Leah Watson, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Racial Justice Program, in a press release. "The First Amendment broadly protects our right to share information and ideas, and this includes educators' and students' right to learn, discuss, and debate issues around systemic racism and sexism."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Solange Reyner ✉
Solange Reyner is a writer and editor for Newsmax. She has more than 15 years in the journalism industry reporting and covering news, sports and politics.
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