Today, a federal judge threw out U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) safety rules for cruise companies operating in Florida during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s 124-page ruling by U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday of the Middle District of Florida is a win in Florida’s case against the CDC.
As a result, the conditional sail order can remain in place for Florida cruises only until July 18, granting DeSantis’ request for a preliminary injunction while the full case moves forward. After July 18, the CDC’s rules will turn into non-binding recommendations for cruise companies.
Today’s ruling is a victory for the hardworking Floridians whose livelihoods depend on the cruise industry. The federal government does not, nor should it ever, have the authority to single out and lock down an entire industry indefinitely. I am excited to see the cruise industry get sailing again, and proud to stand with Governor Ron DeSantis against illegal federal overreach and draconian lockdown measures.Statement by Attorney General Ashley Moody
The CDC has until July 2 to propose a more limited set of cruise regulations to the court.
In April, Florida sued the CDC saying they were overstepping their bounds by preventing the cruise industry from resuming operations.
The following is a press release issued by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, the federal district court in Tampa delivered a major victory for Governor Ron DeSantis against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its obstructionist No Sail Orders that have flatlined Florida’s cruise industry for over a year. Ruling in favor of Florida’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction, Judge Steven Merryday concluded the CDC’s restrictions are likely unconstitutional and overstepping their legal authority. The Cruise Industry will soon be permitted to set sail again thanks to the lawsuit brought by Governor DeSantis and Attorney General Moody. The state fought on behalf of the cruise industry in Florida to secure the ability to resume operations without overly burdensome requirements that discriminate against children, leave most of the ships sitting in port, and disregard the freedom of Floridians to make decisions for their families.
Beginning July 18, the CDC’s orders will become mere “guidance,” and cruise ships will hit the open waters once again free from the CDC. As Florida continues to thrive while open for business, the return of the cruise industry marks an important milestone in the fight for freedom.
“The CDC has been wrong all along, and they knew it,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “The CDC and the Biden Administration concocted a plan to sink the cruise industry, hiding behind bureaucratic delay and lawsuits. Today, we are securing this victory for Florida families, for the cruise industry, and for every state that wants to preserve its rights in the face of unprecedented federal overreach.”
Included in the ruling, the Middle District Court of Florida found that:
- The CDC cannot discriminately keep children and families from cruising;
- Neither the CDC, nor any federal agency, can require a vaccine passport; and
- The CDC must create an actual framework for businesses to resume operations, rather than forcing them to conduct burdensome and bureaucratic tests without any standard by which to be measured.
In its ruling, the court says “Never has CDC (or a predecessor) detained a vessel for more than fifteen months; never has CDC implemented a widespread or industry-wide detention of a fleet of vessels in American waters; never has CDC condition pratique as extensively and burdensomely as the conditional sailing order; and never has CDC imposed restrictions that have summarily dismissed the effectiveness of state regulation and halted for an extended time an entire multi-billion dollar industry nationwide. In a word, never has CDC implemented measures as extensive, disabling and exclusive as those under review in this action.”
Judge Merryday also cites a previous ruling stating, “When an agency claims to discover in a long-extant statute an unheralded power to regulate ‘a significant portion of the American economy,’ we typically greet its announcement with a measure of skepticism.”