On Thursday, November 16, the Supreme Court made the decision to decline to reinstate a Florida law that had made it illegal for children to attend drag shows. According to a joint statement made by Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the denial “indicates nothing about our view on whether Florida’s new law violates the First Amendment.”
Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented from the decision.
In June, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking Florida’s Protection of Children Act due to its potential violation of the First Amendment. Melanie Griffin, secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation then filed an emergency application with Justice Clarence Thomas in October asking the Supreme Court to reinstate the law.
NEW: The Supreme Court declined an emergency request to reinstate Florida's law making it illegal to admit children to drag shows.
Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented. pic.twitter.com/QOHx57ZDeA
— Katelynn Richardson (@katesrichardson) November 16, 2023
Justice Kavanaugh wrote a statement concerning this case where he made it clear that they were not taking into consideration whether or not it was unconstitutional to stop the government from enforcing laws against non-parties to litigation after finding them unconstitutional. He argued that this case is too complicated when considering all the complexities associated with overbreadth challenges used during a First Amendment analysis.
This means that while an important issue was raised here, it should be examined in another context before any decisions are made about its implications on similar cases down the line.
This case brings up important constitutional questions regarding freedom of speech and expression but unfortunately these will remain unanswered as the Supreme Court declined to revive this law limiting access to drag shows for children. It appears that even under conservative leadership, attempts at restricting individual rights will be met with scrutiny from all sides of the political spectrum.
It is uncertain whether or not future cases will have different results regarding similar issues such as those presented by this case.