DeSantis Wants to Edit 1st Amendment: FL’s Governor Claims Unconstitutional Powers

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Washington, DC – -(AmmoLand.com)- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a leading presidential contender, is skilled at appealing to Republicans who resent the censorious self-righteousness of woke progressives. But instead of defending free inquiry and open debate, DeSantis seems bent on fighting intolerance with intolerance.

When he signed the Individual Freedom Act in April, DeSantis bragged that it would “prevent discriminatory instruction in the workplace,” striking a blow against “the far-left woke agenda.” But as a federal judge explained last week, the law’s restrictions on employee training blatantly violate the First Amendment.

The IFA expanded Florida’s definition of “unlawful employment practices” to include “any required activity” that promotes one or more of eight forbidden concepts. Some of those ideas are plainly illiberal (e.g., linking moral status to race) or patently silly (e.g., viewing virtues such as excellence, hard work and fairness as white supremacist constructs), while others are ambiguous or debatable (e.g., the notion that “members of one race, color, sex, or national origin cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race, color, sex, or national origin”).

Whatever you think of those ideas, the government has no business decreeing whether and how they can be discussed in private workplaces. Yet that is what the IFA does: It allows discussion “in an objective manner without endorsement of the concepts” while forbidding speech that “espouses, promotes, advances, (or) inculcates” them.

As U.S. District Judge Mark Walker noted when he issued a preliminary injunction against those restrictions, they amount to “a naked viewpoint-based regulation on speech,” which is presumptively unconstitutional.

“Under our constitutional scheme,” Walker observed, “the ‘remedy’ for repugnant speech ‘is more speech, not enforced silence.'”

DeSantis argued that the IFA aims to prevent a “hostile work environment” created by ideas that might discomfit employees.

Walker thought that was a stretch because that term encompasses speech only when it is “both objectively and subjectively offensive (SET ITAL) and (END ITAL) when it is sufficiently severe or pervasive” — requirements that provide “shelter for core protected speech.”

More to the point, conservatives have long criticized discrimination claims based on an allegedly hostile work environment, precisely because they can transform otherwise protected speech into illegal “harassment.” Yet DeSantis is not only defending that concept; he is extending it to cover even a single “required activity” that “espouses” ideas he does not like.

The governor’s support for Florida’s social media law evinces a similar lack of principle. That 2021 law prohibits platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube from removing or limiting access to content they deem objectionable, including material produced by “journalistic enterprises” and posts by or about political candidates.

As DeSantis saw it, the law would “ensure that ‘We the People’ — real Floridians across the Sunshine State — are guaranteed protection against the Silicon Valley elites.” He said it would combat the “Big Tech censors” who “discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology.”

DeSantis likened Facebook et al.’s moderation decisions to the “censorship and other tyrannical behavior” of Cuban and Venezuelan despots. But as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit pointed out when it blocked enforcement of Florida’s law last May, such comparisons elide a constitutionally crucial distinction.

Unlike “Big Tech censors,” an unconstrained government has the power to ban and punish controversial speech by force of law, as Florida sought to do with the IFA. The First Amendment, which aims to guard against that danger, does not impose any limits on the editorial judgment of private organizations.

To the contrary, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the First Amendment guarantees the right to exercise such discretion.

But in Florida, Walker wryly noted, “the First Amendment apparently bars private actors from burdening speech, while the state may burden speech freely.”

That backward view is not just diametrically wrong but dangerously shortsighted. Depending on the vicissitudes of elections, a government with the powers DeSantis has claimed easily could use them to advance “the far-left woke agenda” that keeps him awake at night.


About Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @JacobSullum. During two decades in journalism, he has relentlessly skewered authoritarians of the left and the right, making the case for shrinking the realm of politics and expanding the realm of individual choice. Jacobs’ work appears here at AmmoLand News through a license with Creators Syndicate.

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ROCK6

Ah, if only biased writers and judges would attack the left about their infringements of the 2A as hard as they do the right on tit for tat attacks on the 1A, we might see some balance. Ironically big-tech, is doing “big government’s” discrimination and attacks for them…you’re quite daft and ignorant if you can’t see the marriage and absolute abuse of government power through the complicit use of big tech to attack political and ideological opponents.

Brian

Hmm, concur, but if by this you mean to criticize Sollum, the criticism is misplaced. He and Reason Magazine are pretty pro-2A, as they are with any of the rights listed in the Constitution. His criticism of DeSantis and IFA, while an opinion piece, is both valid and warranted.

Zhukov

The mandatory training violates the 1st amendment right of those who are forced to attend such training or lose their jobs. There should be no mandatory training for anything that does not apply to the job.

Russn8r

Yep. Try exercising 1A & questioning the Political Officer/Thought Cop in a “training” session, see what happens to your career. Like what happens to students who stand up to “teacher”-groomers.

Last edited 1 month ago by Russn8r
JDL

Is Jacob related to Harold Hutchinson?

Hazcat

Reason Magazine should tell you all you need to know. Same as the Peoples ‘Republic’ of China. Aby time you see those types of words in the name of an institution, bill, etc. you can be sure that it is against those very concepts.

Brian

Reason has a libertarian editorial line. They are pro-liberty, not pro-authority, regardless of whether the latter is masqueraded as conservative or liberal.

Bigfootbob

Hahaha.

Russn8r

They probably share DNA, if that’s what you mean.

Russn8r

Well now we’ve heard from the sanctimonious LOLibertarians. What else does Jacob Sullum & “Reason” believe?

That there should be no limits on immigration. Which means massive redistribution (THEFT) of wealth and voting control, citizenship means nothing, and there can be no independent USA.

LOLibertarians are de facto socialists & globalists. They cannot honestly take the pledge of allegiance let alone the oath of office.

Arny

Funny how for at least 5 decades they enforced immigration laws. The same damn politicians that are telling everyone, we have no right to restrict anyone from entering the country. $187 Billion spent from Reagan till 2013 to enforce immigration. And how much since ? So were they breaking the laws then ? Or are they breaking them now ? And if it was in the past. Then we should be reimbursed said funds. They were funneling that money into their coffers. And how much have they made with the drug trade ? These SOBs need to be hung. Why… Read more »

Wild Bill

And the President takes an oath to enforce those laws, too.

musicman44mag

Ya, with his hand on the Koran which should mean nothing to real Americans and should be considered an insult just like taking a knee during the national anthem.

Brian

A very uneducated comment. Libertarians are not pro-socialism or pro-globalism. What they are is pro-limited government. Now, that can piss off closet authoritarians who like to think of themselves as limited government conservatives, but if you’re truly in favor of a society with capitalist economic principles and limited government interference in the citizenry, then Libertarianism is about as close as you can get to that.

john

Liberal lawyers & liberal judges appointed by democrats are a force to be reckoned with. Their purpose is hack away at the us constitution in the lower courts intimidating those to weak to stand and fight.

Desantis has proven to me that he is a warrior against the far left and the democrats. I only hope the the republican party pulls up there big boy panties and begins take the fight to the democrats rather than always running defence.

Dogma Factor

Needn’t read more than the first paragraph of Jacob Sullum article to determine that he’s an socialist elitist with no common sense full of proper pronouns.

Alf

I don’t see any solutions here. Lots of gripes though. Making change is difficult. My experience is that it is human nature to let the pot boil slowly until you’re cooked. Only then does one react! Sometimes the pendulum must swing hard to the other way to then restore a balance. For so long a small percentage of the populous has heartily push their personal beliefs and agenda that most people are convinced either the government owes them or the same government needs to step aside and let people go about their lives. This scenario never ends well for anyone.… Read more »

MikeRoss

I don’t understand, how is this different from the existing Florida Civil Rights Act, which was based on the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, other than extending it to cover non-profit institutions like schools?

Russn8r

Yep. The point is blocking circumvention of Civil Rights Acts by limo-commie wokesters aided by mindlessly dogmatic LOLibertarians.

Last edited 1 month ago by Russn8r
swmft

it enforces it against groups that decided they were exempt

Bucketboy

Just a snobby eastern seaboard writer.
Never complains when the idiots on the left are censoring everybody.

Russn8r

Yep. LoLibertarians protect “1A rights” of leftist oligarchs to oppress our 1A rights. Their heroes like Mike Lee are rent boys for Silicon Valley. Other LOLibertarian faves:

1-way “free trade” that destroyed American industry & jobs while enabling ChiComs to buy the USA out from under us.

Deluge migration/invasion to crush wages on the remaining jobs while jacking up cost of living & “housing”.

JayWPB

Freedom is guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Freedom is lost every time a new law is passed.

Grigori

Very true, or as one of the great philosophers of old (I believe Cicero) said, “More laws, less justice”, or words to that effect.

swmft

basicly every law should be tested BEFORE it goes in effect to see it it is constitutional , that is the reason for the oath of office….problem is oath breakers are not put to death

Russn8r

Who tests it? A SupCt that gave states a right to steal elections & won’t hear 99% of righteous cases?

That would straightjacket conservative govs & block liberty-restoring laws.

There’s nothing wrong with the law Heavy D signed.

Last edited 1 month ago by Russn8r
Russn8r

“Freedom is lost” if we pass a law to abolish ATF/FBI, replace the income tax with a FAIR tax or send education $s to parents instead of gvt schools if the kid passes the same standardized tests gvt school kids have to pass? Hardly.

Last edited 1 month ago by Russn8r
Ope

I sure wish Desantis would get off his ass and get Constitutional Carry heard, passed, and signed into law as he’s said he will do. The good people of Florida want this done, not just more Desantis bullshit and excuses.

Russn8r

So OFFICER OPE (TEX etc) is back to hating on Heavy D and lying about him. Last week he was licking his star (the brown one, not the silver one) & hoping he’d run with Trump.

Last edited 1 month ago by Russn8r
gregs

do you understand how state politics operates. the gov can only sign or veto legislation, he cannot create it.

Wild Bill

O did not write that DeSantis should create legislation. He wrote that he wished that DeSantis would get it passed. I’m pretty sure that encompasses all the cajoling and machinations of state politics. I could be wrong.

Ope

WB, you’re right. CC has never been a priority of Desantis. He’s the Governor and it’s up to him to pressure the Florida legislature to get the lead out of their butts and move on this. He, and only him, has to be the motivating factor to get CC signed into law. Desantis even called for a special session to address this, but nothing ever came of it. He only says he will sign it into law if it’s on his desk, knowing that won’t happen. Hopefully Floridas next Governor will do what Desantis refuses to.

Russn8r

“CC was never a priority of DeSantis.” False “Up to him to pressure.” Heavy D has done so & will do more. “DeSantis even called for special session.” Directly contradicts your claim it was never a priority. “Only says he’ll sign if it’s on his desk, knowing it won’t happen.” False. Heavy D said he wants it. Everyone knows it’s blocked by several copsucking RINOs led by NRA/Marion Hammer’s favorite gun grabber Sen Pres Simpson who’s term limited this r. You pretend not to know it. CC will pass late ’22 or early ’23. “He, and only him (sic), has… Read more »

Russn8r

Protecting your biggest, vilest, tag-team toady, OFFICER OpeTEX’s 20-mule-team sock-posse. He already Opevoted you 5x for praising his ongoing smear of Ron DeSantis. Too obvious if he logs into the other 15 troll accounts.

Ope

Gregs, where did I write Desantis can create legislation?

john

Tell that to the governors of NYS or California that is how they roll lawless at best

Russn8r

True, but what do the decrees of communist NY & Cali governors have to do with Ron DeSantis?

Last edited 1 month ago by Russn8r
Rick

Why would we listen to anything that a Obama appointed judge would say? In my opinion, this judge is what’s wrong with our judicial system!

Bill

A strange article to see at Ammoland.

Grigori

Years ago, Art Bell had an occasional guest on his show the name of whom I now forget. This guest had written a book, the name of which I have also forgotten, the premise of which was that even if there were no such thing as God, man would have invented Him. Generally, the author made a case that for some in-born reason, man has a need to believe in something bigger and greater than himself and to worship it. At the time, I considered these among the more boring of Art’s programs and usually switched off to FM and… Read more »

gregs

i agree with your first paragraph, but that is a chat for another time. after that we begin diverging on opinions. at that time trump was the best choice because people were finally fed up with all the swamp creatures that just assumed that they would be next in line for the presidency, just look at two-time losing hilary. trump surrounded himself with people who were not up to the job of advising him and he did make some bad decisions, as all (use you preferred neo-pronoun here) do. desantis has done many good things here in florida and hopefully… Read more »

PMinFl

Everyone forgets that it was Trump or Hillary. Next will be ? or Kamala. Choose your poison.

swmft

you are forgetting all the possible choices in primary trump won because he is an outsider

Grigori

I no longer believe that Trump is or was “an outsider”. I think he was one of them, all along. We were led to believe he was an outsider but when you think about it, a lot of our fellow citizens have been led to believe a lot of things over the last couple of decades or so.

Last edited 1 month ago by Grigori
Grigori

I believe they were both chosen by The Deep State so the DS couldn’t lose. Trump was preferred because they knew if she went in, parts of The Declaration of Independence were likely to be activated. People had had enough. Their “new” guy provided hope for the masses, albeit a false one.

NOBODY gets to the White House anymore, except through the good graces of The Deep State.

Last edited 1 month ago by Grigori
Grigori

Hi gregs! Yes, at the time, Trump seemed to be the best choice for a multitude of reasons. I think that illusion was by design. Before someone says it, I am not and never was a supporter of any Clinton. Like many, I had been fed up with Swamp creatures and the harm they brought our country for many years. I voted for Trump in 16 but was cautiously optimistic. Trump, among other things, told us he would “drain The Swamp”. His entire term, he gave Swamp creatures extreme preference in hiring. Haley, Mulvaney, Bolton, Pompeo, Kavanaugh, and many, many… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Grigori
Deg4u

I thought that at one time. Do not think it anymore. I think Trump did a great job for our country. The demons was at Trumps neck all the time and I don’t see how he got anything done because of of them. I agree that he got fed some baloney but out country was thriving while he was in. I think if he was with the demons, he would have got reelected, and I will vote for him again if he is on the ballot.

Russn8r

OK, GROOMER!

“Libertarian” Sullum is HORRIFIED at keeping schools from twisting kids into racists & “private” firms from race-oppressing employees.

He praises Obama-appointed Judge Walker, who circumvented Titles III, VI & VII of the ’64 Civil Rights Act that the Individual Freedom Act protects.

He pretends it’s all about 1A as if employees & kids can really employ same “free” speech rights as employers & “teacher”-groomers.

The risk of disagreeing with wokesters is only unclear to dogmatic LoLibertarians. Racist 1A “rights” for those in power enable them to ID dissenters for punishment & career stagnation under pretense of other issues.

Last edited 1 month ago by Russn8r
Finnky

So true. Departure from our core constitutional principles for any reason is wrong and short sighted. Any increase of governmental (or executive) powers will not be rescinded without a serious fight. Such powers will be extended and used by those with views diametrically opposed to one’s own. Take for example trump’s bumpstock ban. While wrong in and of itself, it has been used as a guideline by those who oppose gun rights – contributing greatly to #FAFT’s tyrannical actions under biden. Second example is Texas’s anti-abortion lawsuit authorization act. I’m fairly certain that california’s reactionary anti-gun laws are only the… Read more »

gregs

government as a whole needs to be reined in. the abdication of congress to the administrative state (deep state) has produced a tyrannical sort of government, one that will have to be taken back by force if not ideologically. our founding documents tell us that.
we the people have the power to elect judges and political figures to make our laws for the good of society as a whole and not just one political party. this is where it starts and hopefully we will not have to have another revolution to be free of tyranny.

Wild Bill

Yes, merely returning to the Constitution would solve many problems.

swmft

it may well take an armed force to remove entrenched employees who think they are bosses

warfinge

MEH… DeSantis is like Ted Cruz. They can spend months making glorious rhetoric about liberty and the Republic but every so often let slip something fundamentally unamerican. Both are swamp monsters dressed like patriots I believe.

gregs

what, as opposed to the leftists that continuously demean America but on occasion let something positive slip out?