On September 9, 2021 U.S. District Court Judge Mark E. Walker issued a 90-page order preliminary enjoining the enforcement of HB 1, the anti-protest Bill. Judge Walker’s order makes clear what Democrats in the Florida Legislature have argued since last session: HB 1 is an unconstitutional infringement of Floridian’s First Amendment rights.
This ruling is the latest in a long line of legal defeats for Governor De Santis:
On August 8, 2021 U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Williams issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the enforcement of DeSantis’ vaccine passport ban as applied to cruise ships.
On July 1, U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor (a Trump appointee) issued a preliminary injunction blocking the enforcement of Florida Senate Bill 1890. SB 1890 was designed to set $3,000 limits on campaign contributions to committees in support of or opposition to ballot initiatives during signature gathering.
On June 30, 2021 U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle entered a preliminary injunction enjoining the enforcement of SB 7072 the so-called Big Tech “Censorship” Law. Judge Hinkle specifically noted DeSantis’ flaunting of basic constitutional rights, noting that “The state has asserted it is on the side of the First Amendment; the plaintiffs are not. It is perhaps a nice sound bite. But the assertion is wholly at odds with accepted constitutional principles…” The order is on appeal.
On August 27, 2021 Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled that DeSantis acted outside his authority when his administration ordered that local school districts could not require that students wear masks. Judge Cooper found that DeSantis violated the due process rights of School Boards under the Parent’s Bill of Rights and that the EO and DoE Rule were “arbitrary and capricious.” DeSantis immediately appealed, which triggered an automatic stay of Judge Cooper’s order. However, on September 8, 2021, Judge Cooper found good cause to vacate the stay pending appeal – reinstating his order and invalidating DeSantis’ ban on requiring masks in schools. On September 9, 2021, DeSantis filed an emergency appeal in the First District Court of Appeal.
In response to Governor DeSantis’s recent losing streak in the courts, Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz issued the following statement:
Over the past weeks, rulings by judges at different levels of our judicial system have painted a damning portrait of our Governor. In case after case they have found DeSantis’s arguments patently unconvincing and his actions unconstitutional. In spite of his claims, his authoritarian attempts at twisting constitutional principles to further a partisan and deeply ideological agenda have consistently endeavored to make our state less free and less safe.
“We should be thankful that, at least for now, the court system has provided a firewall that provisionally protects Floridians from DeSantis’s and the GOP’s disingenuous, dystopian and distorted views of our constitutional freedoms.
“The ultimate judgement will come in November of 2022, when the citizens of our state will finally have the chance to rule on DeSantis’s cynical, self-serving and dictatorial behavior. For the future of our state, it is essential that the voters dismiss DeSantis with prejudice from the Governor’s mansion.”