Supreme Court won’t allow Florida to enforce new law targeting drag shows

FILE - Drag queen Angelica Sanchez performs in front of hundreds of people, including...
FILE - Drag queen Angelica Sanchez performs in front of hundreds of people, including immigrants-rights and abortion-rights groups and members of the LGBTQ+ community from across the state, as they take part in a rally and march, May 1, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. A panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, said a ruling prohibiting the enforcement of a new Florida law targeting drag shows will stay in place for the time being, according to a federal appeals court decision. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)(AP)
Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 11:10 AM EST
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The Supreme Court said Thursday it will not allow Florida to enforce its new law targeting drag shows, while a court case proceeds.

The justices refused to narrow a lower-court order that has prohibited the law from being enforced statewide.

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

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 stopping the law from being enforced. The district court found that the law likely restricted free speech and couldn't be enforced anywhere in the state.

Drag show performers in West Palm Beach
Drag show performers in West Palm Beach

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.

READ: Florida's law on "adult live performances"

DeSantis signed the controversial bill into law on May 17.

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.

Jeremy Redfern, a press secretary for DeSantis' office, released the following written statement about the Supreme Court's ruling:

"While we are disappointed in this particular ruling, the Supreme Court did not opine on the merits of our law protecting children from sexualized adult live performances.

This case is still pending appeal at the 11th Circuit, and we expect this law to be upheld on the merits."

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