Culture wars have their day in court: Where DeSantis won and lost | The Nation

The DeSantis administration has been waging a legal battle over more than a dozen policies and executive actions related to the Florida governor’s “culture wars.”

So far, he has lost more than he has won. But some cases are still ongoing.

Here’s a summary of the lawsuit, and where it stands now:


Vaccine requirements: After the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention implemented new safety rules for cruise lines operating in Florida during the COVID-19 pandemic, the DeSantis administration filed a lawsuit in federal court to block them. With DeSantis winning by June 2021, a judge ruled that the rules must be struck down in July.

Mask tasks: After a Leon County judge ruled the state could not enforce a strict mask ban in schools, a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeals overturned the decision, handing the DeSantis administration a clear victory. . When the school district waived its mask requirement, the U.S. Department of Education subsequently dropped its cease and desist complaint against the state.


Medical staff:The DeSantis administration is working with Attorney General Ashley Moody to challenge the Biden administration’s requirement for healthcare workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. In January 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the vaccine requirement is legal, forcing the state to drop its legal challenge to the CDC rule.

Election Law: In a 288-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker struck down laws restricting mail-in ballot boxes and voter registration efforts by independent groups. Walker concluded that there was deliberate discrimination in Florida, and that DeSantis and lawmakers ignored evidence that voting laws would disproportionately hurt minorities in an attempt to undercut Democratic turnout and black voter representation. However, the governor quickly won a reprieve after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturned the injunction, including Walker’s ruling that all future voting restrictions would require federal court approval. But challenges remain unresolved.

Stop the WOKE (Wrong on Our Children and Employees) Act:In November, Walker temporarily suspended enforcement of a bill banning public schools and colleges from promoting eight specific concepts related to race. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Legal Defense Fund and the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression sought a preliminary injunction, arguing that it violated the First Amendment rights of university professors by imposing restrictions on unpopular viewpoints. DeSantis said the law needs to take a “stance against state-sanctioned racism that is critical race theory” — referring to the directive that characterizes racial bias as a structural feature of American law. His lawyers argued that the state could decide what would and would not be taught in college classrooms. To quote George Orwell, Walker called the idea a “positive dystopia.”

social media: A 2021 law seeking to bar social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter from removing political candidates from their platforms and requiring them to publish standards on issues such as blocking users was first rejected by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle. Hinkle, which was upheld by a three-judge appeals panel. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law unconstitutionally limited the corporation’s First Amendment rights.

Riot Act:After demonstrators in Florida and across the country protested the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by Minneapolis police in 2020, DeSantis and state lawmakers passed A wide-ranging law tightened criminal penalties for crimes committed during protests that turn violent, or riots. In September 2021, Walker blocked the state from enforcing key parts of the law, in part because it “encourages arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.” Under the law, he said, the definition of what constitutes a riot is so vague “to the point of being unconstitutional.” .

pending court decision

Andrew Warren: The Hillsborough state attorney, from whom DeSantis was suspended, filed a lawsuit seeking reinstatement. Federal District Court Judge Hinkle held a three-day trial earlier this month. It featured the governor’s “public safety czar” testifying that he urged the governor to take action, while Warren’s chief of staff testified that he warned his boss not to sign a statement suggesting he would not enforce abortion restrictions. Warren argued that DeSantis removed him because he was a Democrat and an advocate for social justice enforcement who tried to work with minority communities rather than try to target them.

Immigration flight:Three lawsuits are pending against the state alleging violations of the federal and state constitutions and another alleging violations of the state’s public records law over the DeSantis administration’s decision to remove asylum seekers from Texas Transfer to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. In November, a Lyon County circuit judge dismissed the senator’s lawsuit. Miami Democrat Jason Pizzo challenged the project’s use of state funds, but Pizzo amended the complaint and refiled the lawsuit so it could move forward. A class action lawsuit is also pending in federal court in Massachusetts against DeSantis, Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue and people who helped recruit immigrants in Texas.

Trans Movement Law:In February, the DeSantis administration agreed to put aside a challenge by the Broward County School Board and the Florida High School Athletic Association to the Women’s Sports Equity Act, which bars transgender girls from girls’ and girls’ school sports. The lawsuit says the ban passed by lawmakers last year is unconstitutional and violates a federal law called Title IX, which prohibits gender-based discrimination in education programs. The judge said the case will be on hold until the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules on a case brought by a transgender male student who was barred from using the men’s restroom at a St. Louis school. Johns County High School.

Intellectual freedom: In January, Judge Walker will hear another case challenging the constitutionality of a Florida law requiring state colleges and university campuses to conduct annual “intellectual freedom and diversity of opinion” surveys of staff and students. The plaintiffs, who are both faculty, staff and students at Florida colleges and universities, argued that the measure “intolerably stifles free speech and facilitates unconstitutional censorship on college campuses in the state.”

Congressional re-election districts: A group of plaintiffs, backed by former Attorney General Eric Holder, are suing the state for creating a map that impairs the ability of black voters to elect candidates of their choice in violation of Florida’s constitutional fair districts amendment . The lawsuit, filed by Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute, Equal Ground Education Fund, Florida League of Women Voters, Florida Women Voters Education Foundation and Florida Rising Together, is pending in the Second Circuit in Lyon County. Efforts to set aside the map were rejected by the 1st District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee, which ruled that any challenge would require a full trial before a decision can be reached.

Parental Educational Rights Act: Opponents called it the “Don’t Talk Gay” bill, which prevents teachers from instructing kindergarten through third grade students on gender identity and sexual orientation and requires such instruction to be “age-appropriate.” U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor dismissed the first version of the lawsuit in September, and plaintiffs filed an amended version arguing that it violated constitutional due process, equal protection and First Amendment rights, as well as a federal law known as Title IX, which Sex discrimination in educational programs is prohibited.

abortion: The Florida legislature passed a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest, and was signed into law by DeSantis in April and is currently facing two lawsuits pending in Leon County Circuit Court. On the one hand, a Jewish congregation in South Florida believes the measure violates the rights to privacy and religious freedom. A second lawsuit, filed by an abortion clinic, challenges the constitutionality of the restriction. The two cases also allege that the ban violates privacy rights in Florida’s constitution, which has long played a key role in the state’s abortion cases.

Ban on Medicaid for transgender care: Four transgender Floridians filed a lawsuit in federal court in September challenging the health care administration and its rules excluding gender-affirming care coverage as discriminatory and illegal. They allege that the rule deprives two children and two adult plaintiffs of the right to receive health care services that doctors deem necessary.

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