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Supreme Court Won’t Allow Florida to Enforce Its New Law Targeting Drag Shows During Appeal

Supreme Court Won’t Allow Florida to Enforce New Law Targeting Drag Shows While Lawsuit Pending

ByThe Associated Press

November 16, 2023, 4:13 p.m.

The Supreme Court of the United States meets on Wednesday, November 15, 2023 in Washington. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON– The Supreme Court said Thursday it will not allow Florida to enforce its new law targeting drag shows while a lawsuit is pending.

The justices refused to restrict a lower court order that barred enforcement of the law statewide.

Florida had asked the court to allow its anti-drag show law to apply everywhere except at Hamburger Mary’s restaurant in Orlando, which challenged the constitutionality of the law.

Three justices, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, said they would have granted the state’s request.

Last month, a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s order blocking enforcement of the law. The district court found that the law likely restricted free speech and could not be enforced anywhere in the state.

Hamburger Mary’s regularly hosts drag shows, including family shows on Sundays that children are welcome to attend. The restaurant owner said the law was too broad, vaguely written and violated First Amendment rights by making scary speech.

The new law championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, punishes venues that allow children to attend what it calls “live performances for adults.” Although he did not specifically mention drag shows, the sponsor of the legislation said it was aimed at those shows.

Establishments found to be violating the law face fines and the possibility of having their liquor license suspended or revoked. Individuals could be charged with a minor offense.

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