WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a request from Florida officials to let the state enforce a law banning drag shows.
The case concerns a law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this year aimed at restricting drag shows where children are present. An Orlando bar called Hamburger Mary’s filed suit, claiming the bans violated the First Amendment.
DeSantis, a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, signed a series of conservative bills targeting LGBTQ+ rights earlier this year. In a statement released when he signed the bill, the governor said the legislation makes Florida a “citadel of normalcy” while the rest of the world “goes crazy.”
Jeremy Redfern, a spokesman for DeSantis, said the governor’s office was “disappointed by this particular decision” but noted that the Supreme Court “has not ruled on the merits of our law protecting children ” and predicted that the law would ultimately be “respected just in case.” merits.”
A federal district court sided with the bar and restaurant, ruling that the law likely violated the First Amendment. By the time the case reached the Supreme Court, the question was more technical: whether the lower courts had erred in barring the new law from being applied statewide rather than nationally. restaurant that took legal action?
Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in a statement joined in part by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, emphasized that the Supreme Court was not addressing First Amendment issues but rather more procedural questions related to how lower courts handled the case .
Florida law makes it a crime to allow a child to witness what the state describes as “sexually explicit performances.” Hamburger Mary’s frequently hosts drag shows, comedy sketches and dancing, none of which are age restricted.
“HM is and has always presented itself as a family restaurant,” the restaurant’s lawyer told the Supreme Court earlier this month. “Parents and grandparents often attend shows with their children, and HM leaves it up to parents to determine whether a particular show is age appropriate for their own child.”
Three conservative justices — Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch — said the law would have allowed the state to enforce it for now. They did not explain their position.