Earlier today, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law Florida Senate Bill 266, which doubles down on the “Stop WOKE Act.”
FIRE opposes SB 266 because, like its predecessor, it is riddled with constitutional defects. The measure inappropriately limits what faculty may discuss in general education classes, no matter how pedagogically relevant it is to the subject matter of the course. It directs government regulators to review instruction for violation of the Stop WOKE Act, currently enjoined in Florida’s public universities by order of a federal court in litigation brought by FIRE, the ACLU, and other groups.
Prohibiting ideas in the name of freedom is not freedom at all. It is censorship.
And it imposes vague restrictions on the use of “any state or federal funds” to “promote . . . any programs or campus activities” if they “advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion, or promote or engage in political or social activism.” That language will limit not only course materials, but will curtail the ability of students, student organizations, and individual faculty members to organize or attend programming if it might “promote” broad categories of ideas disfavored by elected officials.
This sweeping language opens the door to a wide range of expressive rights abuses.
As FIRE said when this bill passed the legislature: Prohibiting ideas in the name of freedom is not freedom at all. It is censorship.
The expansion of the Stop WOKE Act is just as unconstitutional as the first version. Florida’s universities should be places open to the free exchange of ideas. When lawmakers start voting ideas off the table, no idea is safe from censorship.
FIRE urges faculty whose teaching may be impacted — and students whose events may be chilled — to contact us via our website at https://thefire.org/alarm.