On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Florida’s request to partially reverse a judge’s order that had halted the enforcement of a new law prohibiting minors from attending drag shows.
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The majority of the court concurred with the decision not to grant Florida the requested stay made in October. In a joint opinion by Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Justice Amy Coney Barrett, it was indicated that the court was unlikely to conduct a comprehensive review of the case.
During the summer, a restaurant chain named Hamburger Mary’s filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida, arguing that a recently enacted law, known as Florida’s Protection of Children Act, was overly broad and infringed upon the First Amendment right to free speech.
The law, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in May, prohibits knowingly allowing a child to attend an “adult performance.” DeSantis contends that drag shows are considered inappropriate for children on the grounds that they are perceived as having sexual content.
CBS News reported:
At issue in the case is the Protection of Children Act, which Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law in May. DeSantis is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and has billed himself as a champion of “parental rights,” an issue that has grown in prominence among the GOP presidential field.
The law prohibits any person from knowingly admitting a child to an “adult live performance,” which is defined as a show that “depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or specific sexual activities” and is “patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community” regarding what is suitable for the age of the child in attendance.
In June, Gregory Presnell, a federal judge in central Florida appointed by former President Bill Clinton, approved the restaurant chain’s request and issued an injunction preventing the state from enforcing the law.
As per Presnell’s ruling, while drag shows might be offensive to certain individuals, they do not necessarily qualify as obscene.
“Existing obscenity laws provide [the state] with the necessary authority to protect children from any constitutionally unprotected obscene exhibitions or shows,” Presnell wrote. “The harm to [Hamburger Mary’s] clearly outweighs any purported evils not covered by Florida law and a preliminary injunction would not be adverse to the public interest.”
A split panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the state’s appeal to maintain a stay on Presnell’s decision.