The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to allow Florida to enforce its law preventing children from being exposed to adult, sexually explicit performances such as drag shows.
In a 6-3 action, the high court declined Florida’s request to reverse a district court ruling that blocked its law from being enforced — not just against the restaurant that sued, but statewide. The lower court said the law infringed on the restaurant’s First Amendment rights.
Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil M. Gorsuch and Samuel A. Alito Jr. would have granted Florida’s request to enforce the law while another court challenge to it is playing out.
Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who was joined by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, wrote that the state’s legal filing didn’t focus on the First Amendment argument, but over the breadth of the district court’s order. The state disagreed with the district court issuing a statewide order instead of just issuing a decision protecting the plaintiff, an Orlando restaurant.
“The issue arises here in the context of a First Amendment overbreadth challenge, which presents its own doctrinal complexities about the scope of relief. This case is therefore an imperfect vehicle for considering the general question of whether a district court may enjoin a government from enforcing a law against nonparties to the litigation,” wrote Justice Kavanaugh.
Part of the legislation at issue, Florida’s Protection of Children Act, penalizes restaurants and establishments that expose children to sexually explicit shows.
It was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in May and prevents anyone from knowingly allowing a minor to enter a venue where there is an adult performance. A venue may lose its license if it violates the law.
Hamburger Mary’s, an Orlando restaurant that has drag shows, sued claiming the law runs afoul of the First Amendment.
A lower court in June agreed earlier this year and blocked the law from being enforced.
The state appealed that ruling, which is currently pending at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.