- A federal judge blocked the 'Stop WOKE Act,' saying it suppresses free speech.
- The Obama-nominated judge compared Florida to the upside-down world in Netflix's "Stranger Things."
- Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis supported the law.
A federal judge has suspended enforcement of Florida's "Stop WOKE Act," a bill backed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that restricts how companies and schools discuss race.
In his opinion, Chief US District Judge Mark Walker compared the Sunshine State's free speech laws to Netflix's blockbuster science-fiction hit, "Stranger Things."
"In the popular television series Stranger Things, the 'upside down' describes a parallel dimension containing a distorted version of our world," wrote Walker, a nominee of then-President Barack Obama. "Recently, Florida has seemed like a First Amendment upside down."
The governor's press office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
The law targeted what many Republicans call "critical race theory."
The formal legal framework for critical race theory examines racial bias in US institutions, and Democrats have argued it's mostly taught in law schools. Defenders of race trainings say they're necessary to prevent implicit bias and racism.
But Republicans have used the term as a shorthand for race-based discussions and trainings that they say are tied to Marxist ideology.
The Florida law says that schools and businesses can't implement policies or teaching materials saying that members of a specific ethnic group are inherently racist or that they should feel guilty for actions committed by their predecessors.
Plaintiffs in the case were Honeyfund.com, a Florida honeymoon registry technology company, Ben & Jerry's franchisee Primo Tampa, and workplace diversity consultancy Collective Concepts and its co-founder Chevara Orrin.
"This vague law violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments by prohibiting the expression of viewpoints disfavored by government officials and chilling a wide range of speech in the workplace," Shalini Goel Agarwal, counsel at Protect Democracy, one of the legal firms representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement. "We look forward to proceeding to trial, winning, and seeing this law permanently overturned. It is a direct attack on American free speech values as well as on free enterprise in Florida."
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.