Federal appeals court upholds block on Florida's 'Stop WOKE' Act

The Florida law barred certain teachings related to Critical Race Theory in public institutions.

Published: March 16, 2023 3:10pm

Updated: March 16, 2023 3:36pm

A federal appeals court on Thursday halted Florida's controversial "Stop WOKE" Act and barred its enforcement at public universities pending appeal.

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) had filed suit in September of 2022, challenging the law. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in November halted its enforcement, calling the law "dystopian." His ruling excoriated the Florida government with quotes from George Orwell's "1984" and reference to the Washington Post's slogan "Democracy Dies in Darkness."

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Walker's decision, ordering that the bill remain unenforced. The brief order, did not provide an explanation for the court's decision, only saying "Appellants’ motions to stay injunction pending appeal are DENIED. The Clerk is DIRECTED to treat any motion for reconsideration of this order as a non- emergency matter."

FIRE celebrated the ruling, saying "[a]ny law that limits the free exchange of ideas in university classrooms should lose in both the court of law and the court of public opinion."

The Florida law barred public institutions from teaching materials related to Critical Race Theory, an academic framework that teaches the inherent racism of white individuals and argues the United States' institutions are tied to systemic racism.

The Stop WOKE Act has been a landmark piece of legislation for Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis's efforts to remove far-left ideology from public education.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.

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