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A federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s ruling that part of Florida’s anti-“woke” law infringes on the free speech rights of employers.

“The government cannot favor some viewpoints over others without inviting First Amendment scrutiny,” the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals said in its ruling Monday.

The Individual Freedom Act, better known as the “Stop WOKE Act,” was one of several bills Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed in 2022 as part of his war on “woke ideology.” It was intended to prevent teachings or mandatory workplace activities that suggest a person is privileged or oppressed based necessarily on their race, color, sex or national origin.

“The ideas targeted in Florida’s Individual Freedom Act are embraced in some communities, and despised in others,” the ruling said. “By limiting its restrictions to a list of ideas designated as offensive, the Act targets speech based on its content. And by barring only speech that endorses any of those ideas, it penalizes certain viewpoints – the greatest First Amendment sin.”

CNN has reached out to DeSantis’ office for comment.

“Speech codes have no place in American society, and elected officials have no business censoring the speech of business owners simply because they don’t agree with what’s being expressed,” said Shalini Goel Agarwal, counsel for Protect Democracy, which represents businesses who filed a lawsuit challenging the law.

The challenge was brought by two Florida-based employers who wanted to require diversity and inclusion training for staff and a consultant.

A federal judge blocked enforcement of portions of the law dealing with corporate training in August 2022, saying it “discriminates on the basis of viewpoint in violation of the First Amendment and is impermissibly vague in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

The appeals court agreed, saying, “Even if we presumed that the Act served the interest of combating discrimination in some way, its breadth and scope would doom it. Banning speech on a wide variety of political topics is bad; banning speech on a wide variety of political viewpoints is worse.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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