Judge In Florida Cruise Line Lawsuit Reminds CDC It Isn’t Congress

Judge In Florida Cruise Line Lawsuit Reminds CDC It Isn’t Congress

A Tampa federal judge pushed back on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-panic power grab on Friday, granting the state of Florida’s request for a preliminary injunction against the agency in a lawsuit challenging the CDC’s mandate that cruise lines require passengers to be vaccinated.

“Never has CDC implemented measures as extensive, disabling, and exclusive as those under review in this action,” Judge Steven Merryday wrote. The CDC has attempted to force cruise lines to show proof of vaccination for at least 95 percent of passengers. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who issued an executive order and later signed legislation banning the use of “vaccine passports” in Florida, initiated the lawsuit in response to the CDC’s overreach.

“We’re [suing the CDC] because it obviously has hurt our state,” DeSantis said. “But it’s a larger issue than just the cruises. You cannot have some bureaucracy — that does not have the legal authority to do this — claim an emergency and shut down commerce.”

In Friday’s ruling, Merryday ordered that the CDC’s requirements would “persist as only a non-binding ‘consideration,’ ‘recommendation’ or ‘guideline’” beginning July 18. At that point, cruise ships could sail without being forced to meet the CDC’s instructions. Merryday added the CDC could propose new, narrower instructions that were “within CDC’s authority” by July 2.

He concluded Florida is “highly likely” to win its legal argument that the CDC’s conditional sail orders “exceed the authority [Congress] delegated” through 42 U.S. Code § 264, the statute allowing the CDC to issue regulations to prevent diseases. If such sweeping restrictions are within the authority of that statute, Merryday continued, then the statute itself “likely constitutes an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to CDC.” In other words, the CDC isn’t Congress and shouldn’t be acting like it.

“The CDC has been wrong all along, and they knew it,” DeSantis said in response to the ruling. “The CDC and the Biden administration concocted a plan to sink the cruise industry, hiding behind bureaucratic delay and lawsuits.” The court order, he added, was a victory “for every state that wants to preserve its rights in the face of unprecedented federal overreach.”

Elle Reynolds is an assistant editor at The Federalist, and received her B.A. in government from Patrick Henry College with a minor in journalism. You can follow her work on Twitter at @_etreynolds.
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