Washington Examiner: Florida law limiting Chinese citizens from owning land blocked by appeals court

Image for Washington Examiner: Florida law limiting Chinese citizens from owning land blocked by appeals court
A sign announcing a home for sale is posted outside a home, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, in Aceworth, Ga., near Atlanta. Credit: Mike Stewart/AP Photo

By Jack Birle

A federal appeals court granted an injunction to block a Florida law limiting Chinese citizens from purchasing land in the state.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ordered an injunction be given for two of the plaintiffs suing the state over claims it violates anti-discrimination laws. The injunction was granted due to a “substantial likelihood of success on their claim,” with one of the judges, Nancy Abudu, claiming the law being challenged “blatantly” violates the 14th Amendment.

“The statute’s language, the anti-Chinese statements from Florida’s public officials, and SB 264’s impact establish that the law is a blanket ban against Chinese non-citizens from purchasing land within the state. This prohibition blatantly violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection against discrimination,” Abudu said in a concurrence of the order.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) championed the law as taking a stand against the Chinese Communist Party and its influence in the United States.

“I’m proud to sign this legislation to stop the purchase of our farmland and land near our military bases and critical infrastructure by Chinese agents, to stop sensitive digital data from being stored in China, and to stop CCP influence in our education system from grade school to grad school. We are following through on our commitment to crack down on Communist China,” DeSantis said last May.

The law allows Chinese citizens with non-tourist visas to buy single parcels of land as long as they are under 2 acres and at least 5 miles away from military sites.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, one of the groups representing the plaintiffs in the case, celebrated the ruling, with legal director Bethany Li saying the order should serve as a “warning to other states” about passing similar laws.

“Florida’s alien land law specifically targets Chinese individuals in clear violation of the Equal Protection Clause,” Li said in a statement on Thursday. “Today’s ruling should serve as a warning to other states that are considering passing similarly racist bills, steeped in a history when Asians were ineligible for citizenship and were told they didn’t belong.

“As a country, we should be making progress and passing laws that protect all communities rather than going back in time and reviving antiquated laws passed over a century ago,” Li continued.

The current litigation is an appeal of the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Florida’s decision not to grant an injunction of the law in August 2023.


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Also published by: Colorado Springs Gazette