The judge reiterated that the law championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis is most likely unconstitutional.
ORLANDO, Florida. On Wednesday, a federal judge said his ruling to block Florida’s anti-drag show law extends beyond the restaurant that filed the lawsuit challenging it to other locations in the state, reiterating that the law championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis is likely unconstitutional.
The state agency that will enforce the law has asked U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell to delay his preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the law until a trial is held to determine its constitutionality until the State of Florida appeals the injunction.
Florida lawyers told the judge that the preliminary injunction should only apply to the Orlando restaurant that sued trying to have the law declared unconstitutional, and not to “non-participants” in the complaint.
The judge dismissed this argument, saying that any damage to the State of Florida would be minimal if the preliminary injunction remains in place and that all Floridians are potentially parties since free speech is at stake.
“The plaintiff is not the only party to suffer damage as a result of the passing of the Law; it has a chilling effect on all members of society who fall within its zone of action,” Presnell wrote in his order.
The complaint was filed by the owner of Hamburger Mary’s restaurant and bar in Orlando, which regularly hosts drag shows, including family shows on Sundays to which children are invited. The restaurant owner said the law was too broad, was written vaguely, and violated First Amendment rights with its scary language.
The new law penalized venues for admitting children to “adult live performances”. Although it did not specifically mention drag shows, the law’s author stated that it was directed towards these performances. Venues that broke the law faced fines and the possibility of having their liquor licenses suspended or revoked. Individuals may be charged with an administrative offense.
Before announcing his 2024 Republican presidential nomination, DeSantis made anti-LGBTQ+ legislation a large part of his agenda as governor. Other bills he signed banned gender-specific childcare and restricted the discussion of personal pronouns in schools.