Florida officials ask U.S. Supreme Court to block rulings limiting anti-drag show law

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The state of Florida is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block lower court rulings that prohibit the enforcement of a new law targeting drag shows.

Florida officials filed an application with the nation’s highest court on Friday asking that the prohibition against enforcing the anti-drag show law only be limited to the Orlando, Florida, restaurant which challenged its constitutionality.

The law should be enforced at other Florida businesses since to do otherwise will “erase from Florida’s statute books” a law meant to protect children, the application said.

Earlier this month, a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s granting of a preliminary injunction stopping the law from being enforced. The district court found that the law likely restricted free speech and the injunction should be extended to all Floridians.

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The appeals court panel ruled against a request from Florida officials to limit the injunction to the Hamburger Mary’s restaurant, saying that Florida officials hadn’t shown that the lower court erred by prohibiting the universal enforcement of the law.

Hamburger Mary’s regularly hosts drag shows, including family-friendly performances on Sundays that children are invited to attend. The restaurant’s owner said the law was overly broad, was written vaguely and violated First Amendment rights by chilling speech.

The new law championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, punished venues for allowing children into what it called “adult live performances.” Though it did not mention drag shows specifically, the sponsor of the legislation said it was aimed at those performances.

Venues that violated the law faced fines and the possibility that their liquor licenses to be suspended or revoked. Individuals could be charged with a misdemeanor crime.

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