On Thursday U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, an Obama appointee blocked state officials from enforcing a policy that limits how lessons on race and gender can be taught in colleges and universities, effectively blocking a key element of the “Stop-WOKE” Act advocated by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The act allowed professors at public universities and public school teachers to be sued for teaching ideas that could be perceived as critical race theory. Mandated workforce training related to race was also prohibited under the act. The latter part had already been blocked, also by Walker back in August.
The law, which has been criticized as a violation of freedom of speech, has inspired similar laws and efforts across other red states as conservatives push back against what they see as indoctrination.
Judge Walker sided with the critics of the law and invoked George Orwell’s 1984 dystopian novel in his decision:
“’It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen,’ and the powers in charge of Florida’s public university system have declared the State has unfettered authority to muzzle its professors in the name of ‘freedom,’” the judge wrote. “This is positively dystopian.”
There are also K12 portions of the Stop–WOKE act that are currently being fought in the legal arena.
The office of Gov. DeSantis is expected to appeal the decision.