Thursday, November 16, 2023

Supreme Court hands DeSantis a big loss on anti-drag law

Florida Gov Ron DeSantis

It was a 6-3 decision. I bet you can easily guess who were two of the votes on the losing side.

From CNN

The Florida law that limits drag shows in the state will remain blocked, the Supreme Court said Thursday, dealing a blow to a key initiative championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. Florida had asked the high court to narrow a lower court’s injunction that stopped the law from being enforced statewide. The justices declined to do so.  

Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch said they would have allowed the law to take effect. In a brief statement agreeing with the court’s decision, Justices Brett Kavanaugh, joined in part by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, addressed the First Amendment complexities of the case and said the case was an “imperfect vehicle” for deciding some of the questions at the center of the dispute. 

 Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody argued that the law – dubbed the “Protection of Children Act” – was designed to “prevent the exposure of children to sexually explicit live performances.” The 2023 law makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly admit a child to a sexually explicit adult live performance that would be obscene for the “the age of the child present.” 

 A district court judge blocked the law while an appeal of it played out, holding it likely violated the Constitution’s free speech and due process protections and that it was unconstitutionally vague. The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals declined Florida’s emergency application for a stay of the district court’s injunction, triggering the state’s ask to the Supreme Court for relief. 

 The law was originally challenged by a popular Orlando restaurant – Hamburger Mary’s – that hosts drag brunches and claimed that the new legislation resulted in a loss of business. Florida had asked the justices to slightly narrow the state-wide injunction so that the law could be enforced against every business except the restaurant that was challenging it.