JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — (Editor's Note: The story above is from a previous report)
A Jacksonville based law firm sued to block Gov. Ron DeSantis' 'Stop WOKE Act' Friday, within minutes of his signing it into law.
The suit claims the controversial measure violates the First Amendment, and asks for a court injunction blocking enforcement of the bill before it "inflicts irreparable harm on Florida's schools and workplaces."
The bill bans any teachings or workplace trainings that “espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels” someone to believe a particular race or sex is morally superior, or an individual can be inherently racist or sexist.
It also targets the teachings of critical race theory in Florida classrooms, defined by Meriam-Webster as “a group of concepts used for examining the relationship between race and the laws and legal institutions of a country and especially the United States.” CRT is not being taught currently in Florida schools.
"The bill grossly infringes on the First Amendment's fundamental guarantees of academic freedom, freedom of expression and students' right to access information regarding these topics," the firm of Sheppard, White, Kachergus & DeMaggio said in a statement. "That is why Plantiffs have filed this lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of HB7."
Plaintiffs include a high school teacher in Manatee County, a substitute teacher in Leon County, an associate professor at University of Central Florida, the president of a firm in Duval County who provides race and ethnicity training, and a child who will be enrolling in kindergarten in Nassau County.
They allege that the legislation at issue here restrict their rights to teach, educate and learn about race-based topics and diversity.
The defendants include Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran, members of the State Board of Education, Florida Board of Governors of the State University System and Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody.
The lawsuit says the bill is explicitly designed "to suppress speech in Florida’s schools and workplaces by passing laws that forbid Florida’s teachers and employers from endorsing concepts about race and sex with which Florida’s conservative politicians disagree. These laws are unconstitutional viewpoint-based restrictions on speech that regulate the speech of Florida’s teachers and business owners in violation of their First Amendment Rights. These laws employ nebulous terms with vague definitions in order to chill protected speech."
In addition to an injunction, plaintiffs are seeking a declaratory judgment that an administrative regulation banning critical race theory and "amending the Florida Education Equity Act" are unconstitutional and violate the First Amendment.
In signing the bill Friday, DeSantis championed its intent, saying, “We believe in education, not indoctrination."
He added, "We believe an important component of freedom in the state of Florida is the freedom from having oppressive ideologies opposed upon you without your consent, whether it be in the classroom or whether it be in the workplace."
According to the bill's analysis, it would prevent CRT from being taught in order to block what is classified as a distortion of historical events that are inconsistent with State Board of Education guidelines.