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Florida Officials Ask U.S. Supreme Court to Block Restrictions on Drag Show Ban

Wednesday, 25 October 2023 11:47 Culture

ORLANDO, Florida - The state of Florida is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block lower court rulings that have prevented the enforcement of a new law targeting drag shows.

Florida officials filed a petition with the nation's highest court on Friday seeking to narrow the injunction against the enforcement of the drag show ban to only apply to an Orlando restaurant that's challenging its constitutionality.

The law must be upheld at other Florida businesses, or else it "erases from Florida's law books" a measure intended to protect children, the petition said.

Earlier this month, a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's decision to grant a preliminary injunction against the law. The district court found that the law likely restricts free speech and that the injunction should be extended statewide.

The appeals court denied Florida officials' request to narrow the injunction to the Hamburger Mary's restaurant, saying the state officials hadn't shown that the lower court made a mistake in blocking the law's statewide application.

Hamburger Mary's restaurant regularly hosts drag shows, including family-friendly Sunday performances that invite children. The restaurant's owner argued that the law is too broad, written vaguely, and infringes on First Amendment rights by chilling expression.

The new law, championed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, penalizes establishments allowing children at what it calls "live performances intended for adult audiences." While it doesn't specifically mention drag shows, the bill's sponsor said it was aimed at such performances.

Businesses found in violation of the law faced fines and the potential suspension or revocation of their alcohol licenses. Individuals could face misdemeanor charges.

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