Ron DeSantis fails again: Appeals court stops 'Stop Woke Act' — calls it the 'greatest First Amendment Sin'

Florida's all-but-forgotten Gov. Ron DeSantis took another punch to the gut yesterday when a federal appeals court stopped a major part of the "Stop Woke Act" from reawakening. In fact, the three-judge panel called the Act "the greatest First Amendment sin."

DeSantis' principal talking point during his failed attempt as a MAGA candidate was his authoritarian Stop Woke Act, which in part, bans speech in schools and other workplaces on topics of race and sex. The Act had already sputtered in fits and starts, before it was temporarily blocked last August after a bunch of businesses sued Florida. But yesterday the court nailed it shut — for now, at least.

"By limiting its restrictions to a list of ideas designated as offensive, the Act targets speech based on its content," said Judge Britt C. Grant, appointed by former one-term president Donald Trump, in Monday's opinion via Politico. "And by barring only speech that endorses any of those ideas, it penalizes certain viewpoints — the greatest First Amendment sin."

DeSantis could always cry to the MAGA-fearing Supreme Court, as authoritarian leaders are wont to do, and it's easy to guess how that would turn out.

From Politico:

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a blow to the DeSantis administration by deeming one of the Republican governor's signature laws — the "Stop Woke" Act — unconstitutional, upholding a previous ruling that prevented it from taking hold. DeSantis officials, meanwhile, disagreed with the decision, signaling that the governor could ask the Supreme Court to weigh in.

And from The Washington Post:

DeSantis had framed the "Stop Woke Act" as a tool for employees to "stand up against discrimination." …

He and attorneys for the state argued in court that the measure is a ban on conduct — private companies' requirement that employees attend such meetings — not speech, according to Monday's opinion. …

Grant, who was appointed by former president Donald Trump, disputed that claim.

"Florida's attempts to repackage its Act as a regulation of conduct rather than speech do not work," Grant wrote in the opinion. " … Even if we presumed that the act served the interest of combating discrimination in some way, its breadth and scope would doom it. Banning speech on a wide variety of political topics is bad; banning speech on a wide variety of political viewpoints is worse."