Why this limited ruling against Florida's Stop WOKE Act is a good thing

Why this limited ruling against Florida's Stop WOKE Act is a good thing

Why this limited ruling against Florida's Stop WOKE Act is a good thing

An attorney who opposes DEI indoctrination is praising a recent court ruling in its favor because he supports the First Amendment and free speech.

In April of 2022, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (WOKE) Act, banning instruction that pushes things like diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), critical race theory (CRT), and other racist indoctrination. It applied to private business, government offices and contractors, and schools.

But on Monday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals weighed in and said parts of the law were unconstitutional.

In her decision, Judge Britt Grant wrote that "by limiting its restrictions to a list of ideas designated as offensive, the Act targets speech based on its content. And by barring only speech that endorses any of those ideas, it penalizes certain viewpoints — the greatest First Amendment sin."

Hugh Phillips of Liberty Counsel calls it a "very good" decision and a win for free speech.

"The state cannot, even if the state thinks it's a public good, take a viewpoint that they disagree with and go to a private business and say, 'You can't say this,'" he submits.

But pointing out that the very nature of DEI training is racist, Phillips says businesses are not entirely off the hook.

Phillips, Hugh (Liberty Counsel) Phillips

"If you're forcing someone to espouse a racist ideology by forcing them not only to attend the training, but also to then agree with the training, that's where you're treading on very, very thin constitutional grounds," the attorney explains.

The law calls certain viewpoints on these issues "hostile speech" and says businesses or schools requiring employees or students to learn its content amounts to "invidious discrimination."

It says employers cannot subject "any individual, as a condition of employment" to "training, instruction, or any other required activity that espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels" certain beliefs about race, sex or other "diversity, equity, and inclusion" issues.

But this ruling is only directed at the portion of the measure that is directed at businesses and does not affect its educational aspects.

"It is perfectly appropriate for the state to protect children from communist indoctrination," Phillips asserts.

Plaintiffs in the case – Honeyfund.com, Florida-based Ben & Jerry's franchisee Primo Tampa, and Collective Concepts – argued the law's mandatory-meeting provision violated their rights to free speech and described the law as particularly vague.