In an order that begins by quoting the famous opening line of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, a federal judge blocked key provisions of a Florida censorship law that aimed to restrict how state university professors teach race, gender, and U.S. history.
The decision, which concludes that the Republican law violates the First Amendment rights of public university faculty and students, marks the second time this judge has ruled against the “Stop WOKE Act” in recent months. In August, the judge blocked the part of the law pertaining to private businesses.
Adriana Novoa, a University of South Florida history professor and a plaintiff in the case, said in a statement that Judge Walker’s ruling is a win “for the institutions of this country.”
“I hope that the courts will defend the existence of a public education that cannot be manipulated by politicians to push any ideology, now and in the future,” Novoa added.
Emily Anderson, an assistant professor of International Relations and Intercultural Education at Florida International University, told the Miami Herald in August that “these policies have really led to increased efforts to silence and surveil academic speech.”
“Academic speech matters, because it’s a fundamental freedom that is really how our university system is grounded,” said Anderson. “When we have policies that threaten speech, in my view, it shadows threats to all other protected rights.”