A United States federal appeals court ruled on March 4 that the “Individual Freedom Act,” promoted by Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, was unconstitutional. Nicknamed across the Atlantic as the “Stop Woke Act” (anti-woke law, in French), the text “exceeds the limits” of the right to freedom of expression, judged the three judges of this court of appeal. The latter even called the law a “First Amendment sin”, since it would go against the right to freedom of expression, which appears in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The law aimed to regulate teaching in educational establishments as well as training in the workplace. Concretely, it prohibits any training asking a person to feel “guilt” for actions “in which they played no role” but which were “committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, national origin or sex.

Ron DeSantis thus explained the objective of his bill, in a press release dated December 15, 2021: “We will not allow Florida taxpayers’ money to be spent on teaching children to hate our country or to hate each other. each other.” DeSantis also said he wanted to “protect Florida workers from the hostile work environment that is created when big companies force their employees to undergo “training” and indoctrination” according to him “inspired by critical race theory .”

The bill was approved in March 2022 by the Florida House of Representatives, with a Republican majority. However, District Judge Mark Walker directly opposed this. Through a decision of more than forty pages rendered on August 18, 2022, the judge expressed his disagreement, blocking the application of certain parts of the law. The latter notably declared that Florida’s “Individual Freedom Act” established “discrimination on the basis of point of view in violation of the First Amendment”.

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The First Amendment thus provides that “Congress shall make no law (…) to limit the freedom of expression (…)”. Ron DeSantis and his cabinet therefore appealed this decision to the Federal Court of Appeal, provided for this purpose. Thus, this Court of Appeal only validated the objection of Judge Mark Walker. Governor DeSantis had made this law one of his priorities. She had also been at the center of debates during her campaign for the Republican primaries for the presidential election of November 2024.

After publicly expressing her disagreement, Julia Friedland, spokesperson for Ron DeSantis, said on March 5 that the governor’s office was “examining all appeal options moving forward.”