Florida ban on Chinese land ownership blocked by appeals court

A federal appeals court has blocked a Florida law that restricted Chinese citizens from buying land in the state from being enforced against two people who sued over the ban.

A panel of judges from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals said in an order Thursday that the plaintiffs showed a “substantial likelihood of success” in proving their case against the law, which was signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in May 2023.

The appeals court panel did not entirely block the law but granted an injunction for the two plaintiffs, Yifan Shen and Zhiming Xu, who feared they would have to cancel contracts they had signed to buy homes.

The panel wrote in its decision that the plaintiffs were granted the injunction because their “recent and pending transactions create the most imminent risk of irreparable harm” without the court’s intervention.

Judge Nancy Abudu, a former civil rights lawyer who was among the panel, wrote in a concurring opinion to the order that the Florida law “blatantly violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection against discrimination.”

The amendment “protects citizens and non-citizens alike, meaning both are entitled to equal protection of the laws of the states within which they reside,” noted Abudu, a President Biden appointee.

The plaintiffs were represented in the case by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which released a statement celebrating the court’s decision.

“There’s no doubt that Florida’s discriminatory housing law is unconstitutional,” Ashley Gorski, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU, said in a statement. “The court’s decision brings two of our clients tremendous relief, and we will continue fighting to prevent this law from being enforced more broadly.”

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