Federal judge allows ‘Stop WOKE Act’ legal challenge to continue

by | Jul 8, 2022

  • Federal judge Mark Walker allowed a group of professors, teachers, and students to legally challenge the “Stop WOKE Act”
  • The act prevents public schools from enacting Critical Race Theory-based curriculum and bars anti-racism workplace training
  • Walker on June 27 rejected a request to place an injunction on the law, allowing it to go into effect on July 1


Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker on Friday rejected a request made by the state of Florida to dismiss a legal challenge against the “Stop WOKE Act” brought forth by a group comprised of professors, teachers, and students.

House Bill 7 (HB 7), The ‘Stop Wrong Against Our Kids and Employees Act,’ stylized as “Stop WOKE Act,” would prevent state funding from going to public schools that enact a Critical Race Theory learning plan, also preventing staff from being subject to what DeSantis called ‘anti-racist therapy.’

The bill would additionally grant parents the ability to legally challenge Critical Race Theory (CRT) teachings in schools while being reimbursed by the state for attorney fees throughout the process.

“I think what you see now with the rise of this ‘woke’ ideology is an attempt to really delegitimize our history and delegitimize our institutions,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis. “They want to tear the fabric of our society, and our culture, and a lot of things we’ve taken for granted, like the ability of parents to raise their children.”

The state’s petition to dismiss the case was primarily concerned with whether the plaintiffs had legal standing to challenge the statute. The state’s lawyers contended, in part, that the plaintiffs could not demonstrate a “damage” from the legislation. Walker noted in his opinion on Friday that plaintiffs have proven standing at this point of the action by the “thinnest of reeds,” according to News Service Florida.

“Without question, a defendant can chill speech even if it lacks the power to punish,” Walker wrote. “For example, a defendant could threaten to refer the plaintiff to an entity that has the power to punish the plaintiff. Or a defendant could imply that they will use their official powers — whatever they may be — to retaliate against the plaintiff for speaking. Thus, while defendants raise a relevant consideration, the boards’ lack of authority to directly punish is hardly decisive. At this stage, that makes all the difference. The teachers allege that the boards can pressure their institutions to punish them for speaking. At the motion to dismiss stage, that’s enough.”

Walker on June 27 rejected claims from a request from the challenging group to place an injunction on the ‘Stop WOKE Act.’ Walker denied a preliminary injunction against the law, which went into effect on July 1, ordering counsel to submit further documents.


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