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Trump-Appointed Judges Halt Florida’s Controversial ‘Stop WOKE Act’

A three-judge panel, including two appointed by former President Donald Trump, unanimously ruled on Monday to halt the implementation of Florida’s “Stop WOKE Act,” officially known as the “Individual Freedom Act.”

The decision marks a significant setback for Governor Ron DeSantis and Republican lawmakers, who championed the bill as a measure against “woke indoctrination.”

Controversial Legislation and Legal Challenges

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Florida’s “Stop WOKE Act,” signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, aims to restrict teachings about race and diversity in schools and workplaces.

Views on the Act

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While supporters argue it combats indoctrination, critics contend it whitewashes history and violates the First Amendment.

Prior Injunction

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Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker previously placed a preliminary injunction against the workplace portion of the bill, citing First Amendment concerns.

Appeals Court Ruling and First Amendment Rights

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A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Walker’s ruling, determining that the law infringes on the First Amendment rights of business owners.

Government’s Obligation to Protect Free Speech

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In their unanimous decision, the judges emphasized the importance of free speech and the government’s obligation to refrain from favoring certain viewpoints.

Judges’ Backgrounds and Appointments

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The panel consists of Judges Charles R. Wilson, Andrew L. Brasher, and Britt Grant. 

Trump Appointees

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Judges Brasher and Grant were appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2020 and 2018, respectively, while Judge Wilson was appointed by former President Bill Clinton in 1999.

Response From DeSantis’ Office

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A spokesperson for Governor DeSantis expressed disagreement with the court’s ruling, asserting that companies should have the right to prevent racially hostile workplaces.

The office stated that they are exploring all options for appeal.

Political Implications and DeSantis’ Presidential Ambitions

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The “Stop WOKE Act” has been central to Governor DeSantis’ political agenda, aligning with conservative priorities.

While DeSantis was once considered Trump’s rival for the 2024 presidential nomination, he eventually withdrew from the race after failing to gain significant traction.

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