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Federal appeals court sides with CDC on cruise ship rules; DeSantis vows to go to U.S. Supreme Court if necessary

Florida Phoenix
Florida Phoenix

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A federal appeals court has dealt Gov. Ron DeSantis a setback in his legal fight with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the agency’s restrictions on operations of cruise ships.

U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday in Tampa on June 18 blocked the CDC from enforcing the rules, including a requirement that most passengers and crew be vaccinated against COVID-19, concluding that it lacked authority to impose them.

On Saturday, a split three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit stayed that ruling, allowing the regulations to remain in place pending further argument.

If not for that decision, Merryday’s order would have invalidated the regulations as of Sunday.

DeSantis promised to continue fighting.

“The 11 Circuit didn’t rule against us. They just said that the ruling can be stayed. It was a two-to-one vote. And, honestly, I mean, you know, these panels are what they are,” DeSantis said during a news conference.

“So, we are absolutely going to pursue, to get the stay removed, either at the full 11th Circuit or at the U.S. Supreme Court. I think probably to the full 11th Circuit en banc, we’ll probably try to do that.”

Federal appeals courts name three-judge panels to decide most cases, but parties may ask a full court to reconsider panel decisions. These are called “en banc” proceedings. Conservative judges comprise a majority of 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 we’d win on the merits at the full 11th Circuit,” the governor said.

DeSantis said he’s pressing the point in part because of the cruise industry’s importance to Florida’s economy, but that’s not the only reason.

“Can you just have one agency in the government, without Congress ever passing a law, just basically shutting down an industry? Maybe you don’t care about the cruise industry, but next time it might be your industry. Next time, it may affect people you know or people that depend on this for their livelihood.”

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