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Florida Federal Judge Issues Temporary Injunction Blocking Portions of the Anti-Woke Law

Judge Walker Tallahassee Courthouse.jpg

Florida - Tuesday November 23, 2022: The Chief Judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida has issued a temporary injunction blocking key portions of Governor DeSantis' Stop W.O.K.E. Act that would have applied to colleges in the state. Judge Mark Walker called the new law "shameful legislation" that would have restricted how lessons on race and gender are taught in Florida's colleges and universities.

In his decision issued last week, Judge Walker found that the policies required by the Stop W.O.K.E. Act were a violation of the First Amendment free speech protections, as well as the due-process rights in the 14th Amendment on college campuses.

Judge Walker accused the DeSantis Administration of arguing that "professors enjoy ‘academic freedom’ so long as they express only those viewpoints of which the State approves. This is positively dystopian," he wrote.

Earlier this year Florida’s Republican-led Legislature approved what they called the "Individual Freedom Act, FL HB 7 (22R). The law takes aim at 'critical-race theory' by prohibiting teaching any course that might lead students to “feel guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress” due to their race, color, sex or national origin.

The American Civil Liberties Union was among those who filed a law suit against the law calling it "education censorship" and arguing that it targets Black educators, students. In a news release, the ACLU applauded the ruling calling it a victory for academic freedom that recognizes the value of inclusive education.

Walker was appointed to the federal bench by former President Barack Obama.

The Governor's Office has announced they will appeal.