Florida Representatives Ask SCOTUS to Reinstate Anti-Drag Limiting Laws

Group Photo of Drag Queens/Creative Commons

By Maggie Harned

ORLANDO, FL.— Florida representatives asked the US Supreme Court to block previous, lower court rulings that have prohibited the enforcement of laws in the state that would go against drag shows. The state is asking SCOTUS to overrule these prohibitions to maintain Florida’s “Protection of Children Act.”

The state’s law, entitled the “Protection of Children Act,” was created to “prevent the exposure of children to sexually explicit live performances.” The law is supported by the 2024 GOP presidential nominee, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. 

The state’s new law makes it a misdemeanor to purposefully subject a child to any sexually explicit adult performance that would be damaging to their age. Venues violating the law could face fines and revocation of liquor licenses. 

District court judges, as well as lower courts, blocked the state’s effort to promote the “Protection of Children Act,” which concerns adult performances that might be sexually explicit for the audience’s age. The courts ruled that it would violate free speech and is unconstitutionally vague. Resulting is the state’s plea to the Supreme Court for their assistance in passing the law. 

The law was originally challenged in Orlando, Florida by popular chain restaurant Hamburger Mary’s. Hamburger Mary’s, a hamburger restaurant with locations across the country, hosts and employs drag stars for drag shows nightly and brunches weekly. The restaurant claims that new laws would result in a significant loss of business for the Florida locations. 

A panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld lower courts’ decisions to grant a preliminary injunction, essentially stopping the law from being enforced while its constitutionality is under investigation by district courts. 

Florida Attorney General, Ashley Moody, asked courts to limit the state-wide injunction only to restaurants or venues that challenge the law. “Hamburger Mary’s,” Moody added, “is not impacted by the law because its shows are not sexually explicit.” 

Moody, in regard to the state-wide injunction put in place of approving the “Protection of Children Act,” feels that “Florida is now unable to enforce its statute at all, to the detriment of Florida’s children and the State’s sovereign prerogative to protect them from harm.” 

The state has seen much pushback this year on its newer laws concerning the protection of children in Florida. Similarly, the state’s recent attempt at passing the “Stop the Sexualization of Children Act,” earlier in 2023, prohibited federal funding towards any sexually oriented programs for children under the age of 10. This bill was scrutinized for its vague nature, and concerns about its constitutionality, likewise to the “Protection of Children Act.” 

This Friday, Florida filed an application with the US Supreme Court asking that the other businesses that do not abide by the “Protection of Children Act ” be prohibited from allowing children to view sexually explicit adult live performances. 

Justices will await responses from businesses before issuing an official order. 

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