Ron DeSantis’ Florida drag ban blocked by Supreme Court

Ron DeSantis, pictured.

The US Supreme Court has demolished Florida governor Ron DeSantis’ attempts to ban drag performances in the state in a huge win for LGBTQ+ rights.

A decision handed down by the court on Thursday (16 November) blocked the state law, which would have banned public drag performances which may have been seen by children.

Restaurant chain Hamburger Mary’s, which features family-friendly drag performances, sued the state in May after arguing the law, and others like it, went against its First Amendment rights.

In a statement announcing the lawsuit, the chain argued that DeSantis was attempting to create a “false narrative” that drag queens are “grooming and recruiting your children” in an attempt to vilify LGBTQ+ people.

A federal judge blocked the law in June, stating that it was “dangerously susceptible to standardless, overbroad enforcement” which could have banned pantomime performances or Shakespearean plays.

In response, Florida appealed to the Supreme Court to temporarily remove the blockade while awaiting a verdict at the appeals court.

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Conservative justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barret joined the Supreme Court’s more left-leaning judges in denying the state’s request, while Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas dissented.

While the Supreme Court issued no official statement on its reasonings behind the decision, Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Barrett explained that the court’s decision indicates “nothing about our view on whether Florida’s new law violated the First Amendment.”

Instead, they argued the decision was based on the federal court ruling, which aimed to block the law from being enforced against Hamburger Mary’s and other parties that aren’t involved in litigation, rather than whether the law is unconstitutional.

The justices continued that the case is “therefore an imperfect vehicle for considering the general question of whether a district court may enjoin a government from enforcing a law against non-parties to the litigation.”

“For that reason, the Court is not likely to grant certiorari on that issue in this particular case.”

The decision comes as a huge win for a state that is considered one of the worst to live as an LGBTQ+ person in the US.

Ron DeSantis has created such a hostile environment in Florida that several LGBTQ+ human rights groups issued a travel advisory essentially urging people to stay away from the state.

Along with Equality Florida, the NAACP and LULAC, the Human Rights Campaign issued a report detailing the risks associated with “relocation or travel.”

The report warns of “unconstitutional legislation” increasing the likelihood of institutional or public violence and racial profiling, urging visitors to “show extreme care” near airports and bus stations.

It also recommends consulting an attorney before travelling to Florida to “assess the level of danger you may encounter in being searched, questioned and/or arrested.”