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Florida’s “Stop WOKE Act” Does Not Survive First Amendment Scrutiny

by | Nov 1, 2022 | First Amendment, Media Law

If speech makes people uncomfortable, should it be restricted? Would such a restriction be a violation of First Amendment law?

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s Individual Freedom Act (IFA), also known as the “Stop WOKE Act,” provoked these questions with its enactment in early July.

Three Florida-based individuals – two employers and a consultant – joined together to request an injunction of this law, because it prevented them from holding mandatory diversity and inclusion training in their workplaces.

The courts found two major components of the law to be unconstitutional:

  • The law is overly vague, which leaves room for inconsistent enforcement (and thus interpolated prejudice)
  • The law specifically discriminates based on viewpoint, which is a clear violation of the First Amendment

DeSantis and the law’s supporters created it with the intention of protecting more conservative individuals from the “left-wing agenda” and a “hostile work environment.”

In his opinion, the judge reminded the governor and legislators that, if speech makes someone uncomfortable, the solution is rebuttal speech – not shutting down dialogue.

I represent news media, bloggers, publishers, and citizens interested in government access, and others who operate under the First Amendment—public records; public meetings; newsgathering; avoiding defamation lawsuits; suing Anti-SLAPP violators. My job is to help you get the records and access you need, help you get the story, help you get the story without getting arrested, help get the story published without defaming anyone, and then defend the story after publication. 

If you need help with any of these areas and don’t have an attorney already, contact me: [email protected].

This post is not intended to be legal advice and does not form the basis of a lawyer-client relationship.


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