Florida Presses Supreme Court To Block District Court Ruling In Anti-Drag Show Enforcement
Florida officials have placed an emergency request to the Supreme Court to allow them to enforce its law banning drag shows, The Hill reports.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the legislation into law in May 2023, a few days before the Orlando restaurant and bar that hosts drag shows, Hamburger Mary’s, sued the state. A federal judge found the law unconstitutional in late June 2023, banning the state from enforcing the law against anyone. Now, the state’s Republican attorney general is calling for the high court to minimize the scope in order for the law to be enforced.
“Hamburger Mary’s has not alleged, much less proven, that application of the Protection of Children Act to others in the State of Florida will cause actual or imminent injury to Hamburger Mary’s itself,” the state said in court filings. “It was a serious error for the district court nonetheless to enjoin the statute as it may apply to the rest of the world.”
Hamburger Mary’s and drag show advocates are in for a fight as the request will fall on the desk of conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, who is in charge of emergency requests from the federal appeals court covering Florida. He could act on the request alone or refer it to the full court for consideration.
The state’s drag show ban labels it a misdemeanor to knowingly take a child to an “adult live performance,” partially defined as performances depicting “lewd conduct” or “lewd exposure of prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts.” Though the legislation didn’t specifically mention drag shows, according to the Associated Press, the sponsor of the law said it was aimed at those performances. Venues that violated the law were set to face stiff fines and risk the possibility of losing their liquor licenses.
An appointee of former President Bill Clinton, U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell, looked at the terms as “ambiguous” and found it could make the legislation “unconstitutionally vague and overbroad” in violation of the First Amendment.
Along with a 2-1 panel on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Presnell denied Florida’s request. “Florida strongly disagrees with that conclusion and has appealed the injunction,” the state wrote to the justices.
“Instead, Florida now applies for a partial stay of the injunction to the extent it sweeps beyond the plaintiff and enjoins the statute universally.”