NATIONAL NEWS

Court rules Florida’s “stop woke” law restricting business diversity training is unconstitutional

Mar 5, 2024, 8:23 AM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A Florida law pushed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that limits diversity and race-based discussions in private workplaces is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court has ruled.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a Florida federal judge’s August 2022 ruling that the so-called “Stop WOKE” act violates the First Amendment as it applies to businesses and is impermissibly vague.

“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,” Circuit Judge Britt C. Grant wrote for the court.

The governor’s office Tuesday was considering options for a further appeal.

“We disagree with the Court’s opinion that employers can require employees to be taught—as a condition of employment—that one race is morally superior to another race,” the governor’s office said in an email. “The First Amendment protects no such thing, and the State of Florida should have every right to protect Floridians from racially hostile workplaces.”

The law prohibits teaching or business practices that it says contend members of one ethnic group are inherently racist and should feel guilt for past actions committed by others. It also bars the notion that a person’s status as privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by their race or gender, or that discrimination is acceptable to achieve diversity.

DeSantis frequently referred to the law during his unsuccessful run for president, with the slogan that Florida was where “woke goes to die.” Other parts of the law involving education have also been challenged but have not been blocked.

Florida attorneys had argued that the law banned conduct, such as requiring employees to attend diversity meetings, rather than speech. The court disagreed.

“Banning speech on a wide variety of political topics is bad; banning speech on a wide variety of political viewpoints is worse,” Grant said in the opinion.

The lawsuit was filed by private entities, Clearwater-based Honeyfund.com and others, claiming their free speech rights are curtailed because the law infringes on company training programs stressing diversity, inclusion, elimination of bias and prevention of workplace harassment. Companies with 15 or more employees could face civil lawsuits over such practices. Honeyfund is in the wedding registry business.

National News

Associated Press

2 people were taken to a hospital after lightning struck a tree near a PGA Tour event in Connecticut

CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) — Two people were taken to the hospital Saturday after lightning struck a tree near a home along a golf course that is hosting the PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship. The home is just north of the fifth green at TPC River Highlands, which is hosting the tournament one week after the U.S. […]

34 minutes ago

Associated Press

Rains, cooler weather help firefighters gain ground on large wildfires in southern New Mexico

RUIDOSO, N.M. (AP) — Recent rains and cooler weather are helping more than 1,000 firefighters gain ground on two wildfires in southern New Mexico on Saturday that have killed two people, destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands to flee. Fire crews took advantage of temperatures in the 70s, scattered showers and light winds to […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

One dead, seven injured after shooting at Kentucky nightclub

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — One person is dead and seven others were injured after a shooting at a Kentucky nightclub early Saturday morning, authorities say. Louisville Metro Police Department officials said they responded to a call of several people shot at the H20 nightclub in Louisville just before 1 a.m. One man, 40-year-old Joseph D. […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Man trying to drown 2 children on Connecticut beach is stopped by officers, police say

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A man trying to drown two small children at a Connecticut beach early Saturday morning was thwarted by police officers, according to authorities. An officer spotted an SUV parked on a beach in West Haven at about 2:30 a.m. and heard “significant screaming” from the water as he approached. As […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Senate in Massachusetts passes bill curtailing use of plastics including bags, straws

BOSTON (AP) — The state Senate in Massachusetts has passed a wide-ranging bill curtailing the use of plastics, including barring the purchase of single-use plastic bottles by state agencies. The bill, approved Thursday, also bans carry-out plastic bags at retailers statewide and require stores to charge 10 cents for recycled paper bags. It also requires […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Flooding forces people from homes in some parts of Iowa while much of US broils again in heat

Floodwaters forced people out of their homes in parts of Iowa, the result of weeks of rain, while much of the United States longed for relief Saturday from yet another round of extraordinary heat. Sirens blared at 2 a.m. in Rock Valley, Iowa, population 4,200, where people in hundreds of homes were told to get […]

9 hours ago

Court rules Florida’s “stop woke” law restricting business diversity training is unconstitutional