Florida’s battle to ban minors from drag shows has escalated to the Supreme Court, as the state seeks to enforce its Protection of Children Act. This legislation aims to fine or revoke the licenses of venues that knowingly admit children to adult live performances. “Adult live performances” are defined as shows that depict or simulate nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, specific sexual activities, lewd conduct, or the lewd exposure of prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts.
However, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the law in June, arguing that it violates the First Amendment. Hamburger Mary’s, an Orlando restaurant that hosts drag brunches, filed a lawsuit claiming that the law was negatively impacting their business. As a result, the law has been temporarily blocked.
Now, Florida is requesting that the injunction only apply to Hamburger Mary’s while the case continues. Melanie Griffin, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary, has sent an emergency application to Justice Clarence Thomas, urging him to reinstate the law during the ongoing lawsuit in the state.
The state argues that the current situation prevents Florida from enforcing its statute, thereby endangering the well-being of its children and impeding the state’s authority to protect them from potential harm. The court filings state that Hamburger Mary’s has failed to prove that the application of the Protection of Children Act to others in the state would cause actual or imminent injury to their own establishment. Thus, the state asserts that it was a serious error for the district court to enjoin the statute’s application to the rest of Florida and requests its reinstatement.
It now falls upon Justice Thomas to decide whether to act on the request alone or refer it to the full court for consideration. The outcome of this decision could have significant implications for the ongoing clash between Florida’s push to restrict minors’ access to adult live performances and the First Amendment rights claimed by venues like Hamburger Mary’s.
The case exemplifies the delicate balance between protecting children from potentially inappropriate content and preserving freedom of expression. As the legal battle ensues, it remains to be seen how the Supreme Court will rule on the matter, shaping the future of drag shows and their accessibility to minors in Florida.