Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he will take legal action against a recent court order that left in place Center for Disease Control orders for cruise ships to follow as they roll out to sea later this summer.
A panel from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a 2-1 decision on July 17 enforcing the CDC’s authority to set health guidelines and restrictions for cruise ships. The last minute ruling overturned a preliminary injunction from US District Judge Stephen Merryday, who blocked a CDC request to extend its COVID-19 restrictions for cruise ships.
Speaking at a June 19 press conference in Poinciana, Fla., DeSantis said the state of Florida will probably extend its legal fight to the full 11th Circuit.
“I think that most courts at this point have had their limit with the CDC issuing these dictates without a firm statutory basis. So I’m confident that we’d win on the merits at the full 11th Circuit,” DeSantis said. “Honestly, I’m confident we’d win at the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Florida filed a lawsuit against the CDC and the Biden administration in April to force the reopening of the cruise industry without COVID-19 guidelines. The suit claims the CDC’s policies worsen revenue shortfalls at Florida seaports and reduces state and local taxes associated with the cruise industry.
“One of the reasons why we did it was not just it’s an important industry for our state,” DeSantis said. “We’re committed to that, but it raises a bigger question: Can you just have one agency in the government, without Congress ever passing a law, just basically shutting down an industry?”
Florida’s ban on vaccine passports brought on a lawsuit from Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings earlier in July. The company contends the state’s ban on vaccine documentation violates the First Amendment by blocking communication between a business and its customers.
NCLH warned it could be forced to pay penalties of up to $5,000 per passenger by enforcing vaccine documentation.
“Indeed, the only way NCLH could maintain its protocols and operations as currently planned is by abandoning Florida altogether,” the suit said.
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