On Thursday, a federal court in Florida struck down a Ron DeSantis-backed bill that forbids some discussions and analyses of race in higher education.
In a decision that referred to the law as “positively dystopian,” U.S. District Judge Mark Walker of Tallahassee ordered a temporary injunction against the so-called “Stop Woke” act.
Teaching or business practices that assert that members of one ethnic group are innately racist and should feel responsible for past wrongdoings by others are illegal. Additionally, it rejects the idea that a person’s privilege or oppression is inevitably related to their race or gender or that discrimination is permissible in order to promote variety.
The decision represents at least a short-term setback to the powerful Republican governor’s plans to combat what he calls the “woke worldview” of liberals and critical race theory, a perspective that views racism in America‘s history. This month, DeSantis was easily reelected to a second term following a campaign that gave much attention to cultural problems.
The governor has frequently stated that Florida appeals courts, which are typically more conservative, will likely overturn decisions that block his legislative initiatives. DeSantis indicated they would appeal the decision, according to a spokesman.
According to Bryan Griffin, DeSantis’ press secretary, “either as a requirement for retaining employment or as an instruction or on employees.”
The powers that be in charge of Florida’s public university system have declared the State has unrestricted authority to silence its professors in the name of “freedom,” Walker wrote in his lengthy ruling, quoting from George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.”
Judge Walker made a similar decision about the statute in August, preventing it from taking effect in commercial settings. Another legal challenge to the law is being made by a group of K–12 educators and a student.
The law was passed in 2022 during the legislative session under Republican control after the governor started pushing for it late last year.
“What you see now with the rise of this woke ideology is an attempt to really delegitimize our history and to delegitimize our institutions,” DeSantis said when he first proposed the legislation. “I view the wokeness as a form of cultural Marxism.” They genuinely want to rip at our society’s foundation.
In response to what academics perceived as a lack of racial progress following the civil rights laws of the 1960s, critical race theory was created in the 1970s and 1980s. Its core argument is that racism is institutionalized across the country’s institutions and that these institutions serve to uphold the dominance of white people in society.
Conservatives reject critical race theory because they claim it racially segregates American society and seeks to rewrite history to convince white people that racism is ingrained in them.