A federal appeals court has denied Florida’s request to enforce its Law «Stop WOKE» championed by Governor Ron DeSantis, holding a lock on some of its provisions while challenges play out in court.

DeSantis, a Republican, signed the legislation, which passed the GOP-led state Legislature, in April of last year. Tallahassee U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in November temporarily blocked some provisions of the law, which restrict discussions of race, gender and inequality, from applying in public colleges and universities, calling them «positively dystopian».

The DeSantis administration then appealed the ruling, asking the court to lift Walker’s injunction. That motion was denied Thursday by the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

“The Court did not rule on the merits of our appeal,” Jeremy Redfern, DeSantis’ deputy press secretary, said in a statement responding to the decision. «The appeal is ongoing and we are confident that the law is constitutional.»

The state has faced multiple challenges to the law.

In August, the ACLU, the ACLU of Florida, the Legal Defense Fund, and a national law firm filed a lawsuit against the legislation on behalf of a group of students and educators.

They called for racially motivated blackjack legislation enacted by the state legislature to stifle widespread demands to discuss, address, and learn about systemic inequities.

Adam Steinbaugh, a lawyer for FIRE, a group that was involved in a separate lawsuit against the legislation, said: «In the college classroom, you’re supposed to learn from an exchange of ideas, which means it’s not a point of view that is inculcated. to the students.»

«You can’t replace one orthodoxy with another, and you’re not going to get to free speech through censorship,» Steinbaugh told NBC News, adding that the legislation DeSantis pushed has a «chilling effect» because professors fear harsh repercussions for his teachings.

Issues of how race and gender are taught have become a central theme in DeSantis’ messaging ahead of a potential 2024 presidential run.

Last month, Rep. Alex Andrade, a Republican who represents Pensacola, introduced House Bill 999, which would allow the state’s Board of Governors to provide direction to universities on eliminating majors and high school in subjects including critical race theory and gender studies, and prohibit spending on programs or activities that support such curricula.

DeSantis has promoted such measures in their statements to the public.

The ACLU’s lawsuit argued that the law violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as the Equal Protection Clause.

“The ‘Stop WOKE Act’ limits teachers to only one perspective the Florida legislature likes on systemic racism and sexism,” said Leah Watson, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program. «In many cases, as our plaintiff professors have shown, this view is not even supported by years of research or scholarship on behalf of academics.»

Supporters of the law argue that it protects against mandatory workplace training or classroom instruction that could make people feel guilty or distressed because of their race or gender.

Walker, in his lengthy November ruling, rejected such arguments, citing George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel «1984.» He wrote: «The defendants’ argument is like the thirteenth chime of a clock: not only do you know it’s wrong, but it makes you wonder about everything you’ve heard before.»

Manny Diaz Jr., commissioner of the Florida Department of Education, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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