(CBrief) – A federal judge who was appointed by former President Obama is facing scrutiny for placing a temporary halt on Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signed law that prevents “woke” indoctrination in higher learning institutions in the state.
Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker issued a ruling on Thursday to temporarily stop the “Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (W.O.K.E.) Act,” which is known as the Individual Freedom Act, The Daily Wire reported. This means that the law cannot be enforced on college campuses until it is adjudicated.
“The law officially bans professors from expressing disfavored viewpoints in university classrooms while permitting unfettered expression of the opposite viewpoints,” the judge said. “Defendants argue that, under this Act, professors enjoy ‘academic freedom’ so long as they express only those viewpoints of which the State approves. This is positively dystopian.”
He said that “our professors are critical to a healthy democracy” as he called them “priests of democracy” who “shed light on challenging ideas.”
The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s son, Christopher J. Scalia, said that “That whole sentence is embarrassing” in reference to the “priests of democracy” line.
“Ah yes, the American university, a flourishing marketplace of ideas,” law professor Adrian Vermeule quipped. “‘Priests of democracy’ is correct, although not in the sense the judge intended.”
“We need to start getting rid of these repulsive judges — or giving them IQ tests,” conservative David Reaboi said. “This clown is dumber than dirt.”
“Priests of democracy.’ The left actually wants to publicly fund religion, as long as it’s their religion,” Jarrett Stepman, of The Daily Signal said.
“Whatever happened to separation of church and state,” attorney Will Chamberlain said. “If professors are ‘priests of democracy’ then universities are churches, and must do without all government funding.”
The law, which the Florida legislature passed in March, prohibits public K-12 schools and universities from teaching eight concepts that constitute “discrimination” and lets parents sue if their children are taught those concepts. It also targets employers who require their workers to partake in woke trainings.
The banned concepts include that a person is “inherently” racist or sexist “whether consciously or unconsciously” due to his race or sex, that a person “bears personal responsibility for and must feel guilt” for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, and that virtues like hard work, fairness, objectivity, and racial colorblindness are racist.
The act enhances enforcement of the Florida education board’s June decision to ban public schools from teaching Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project, which reframes American history with slavery at the center.
DeSantis and Republican lawmakers have touted the law, saying it will prevent both students and employees in Florida from harmful, woke classes and trainings.
Governor DeSantis’ Press Secretary Bryan Griffin said that the governor “strongly disagreed” with the judge’s decision.
“This recent ruling included several victories for our legal team. We expect many more and ultimately to prevail in this litigation,” he said to The Daily Wire.
“The Stop W.O.K.E. Act protects the open exchange of ideas by prohibiting teachers or employers who hold agency over others from forcing discriminatory concepts on students as part of classroom instruction or on employees as a condition of maintaining employment. An ‘open-minded and critical’ environment necessitates that one is free from discrimination,” he said.
In December Gov. DeSantis’ touted the legislation as something he believed was needed on college campuses.
“In Florida we are taking a stand against the state-sanctioned racism that is critical race theory,” he said. “We won’t allow Florida tax dollars to be spent teaching kids to hate our country or to hate each other. We also have a responsibility to ensure that parents have the means to vindicate their rights when it comes to enforcing state standards. Finally, we must protect Florida workers against the hostile work environment that is created when large corporations force their employees to endure CRT-inspired ‘training’ and indoctrination.”