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Florida asks Supreme Court to allow its anti-drag law to take effect

Florida’s attorney general on Tuesday asked the US Supreme Court to allow a law that a federal court judge says amounts to a crackdown on drag shows to go back into effect while legal challenges play out.

Attorney General Ashley Moody said the law – dubbed the state’s “Protection of Children Act” – was designed to “prevent the exposure of children to sexually explicit live performances.” The 2023 law makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly admit a child to an sexually explicit adult live performance that would be obscene for the “the age of the child present.”

The district court judge blocked the law pending appeal, holding it likely violated free speech and due process protections and that it was unconstitutionally vague. The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals declined Florida’s emergency application for a stay of the district court’s injunction, triggering the state’s ask to the Supreme Court for relief.

The law was originally challenged by a popular Orlando restaurant – Hamburger Mary’s – that hosts drag brunches and claimed that the new legislation resulted in a loss of business.

Florida asked the justices to scale back the state-wide injunction so that it would only apply to the restaurant. “Florida is now unable to enforce its statue at all, to the detriment of Florida’s children and the State’s sovereign prerogative to protect them from harm,” Moody argued.

Moody additionally said that Hamburger Mary’s is not impacted by the law because its shows are not sexually explicit.

The law was a priority for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for the 2024 Republican nomination for president.

The governor, upon signing the law in May, said that the state “is proud to lead the way in standing up for our children.”

“As the world goes mad, Florida represents a refuge of sanity and a citadel of normalcy,” he said in a statement at the time.

The justices are expected to ask for a response from the restaurant before issuing an order.

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