Ron DeSantis in Miami

Protect Democracy represents Florida honeymoon registry company and Primo Tampa, a subsidiary of the largest Ben & Jerry’s franchisee in the country, along with corporate diversity consultancy Collective Concepts and its co-founder Chevara Orrin, in litigation challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s HB 7, the Stop WOKE Act. The bill purports to “fight back against woke indoctrination” by, among other things, barring employers from engaging in speech that “advances” certain “concepts” regarding race, sex, or national origin. Protect Democracy filed the lawsuit against Florida officials in partnership with Ropes & Gray, LLP.

On March 4, 2024, a three-judge panel of the 11th US Circuit of Appeals upheld a lower court’s injunction blocking enforcement of the law. “[W]e reject this latest attempt to control speech by recharacterizing it as conduct,” per a unanimous decision from a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit. “Florida may be exactly right about the nature of the ideas it targets. Or it may not. Either way, the merits of these views will be decided in the clanging marketplace of ideas rather than a codebook or a courtroom.”

Read our statement on the 11th Circuit ruling here.

Speech codes like this one, which seek to censor ideas contrary to government officials’ preferred narrative, muzzle independent institutions, and direct outrage toward disfavored groups, take a page from the authoritarian playbook. Prohibiting viewpoints disfavored by government officials violates well-established free speech rights and threatens to chill a wide range of speech in the workplace related to race, gender, and sexual orientation.

Targeting the speech of private employers based on the beliefs and preferences of current lawmakers is not something I’d expect to see here in the United States. As a Cuban refugee whose family fled a repressive regime, I can tell you that this law erodes fundamental American liberty and our system of free enterprise. Sadly, it moves us one step closer to authoritarian government.

Marcos Daniel Jiménez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida during the George W. Bush administration

Institutional affiliations for identification purposes only

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Appeals court slams Florida's 'Stop-Woke' law for committing 'greatest First Amendment sin'

Mar. 4, 2024
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Current United States Authoritarian Threat Index score: 2.1/5 Significant Threat

The Score Breakdown

  • Civil Liberties 1.8/5 • Low Threat