Court rebukes state’s unconstitutional statute
The information that follows was taken from a press release by attorneys’ for plaintiffs in the case. At Progreso Weekly we ask that appropriate authorities investigate the actions taken by Governor Crist, House Speaker Marco Rubio and the law’s main sponsor, State Rep. David Rivera, and others who brought forward this law which most knew had no chance in any legitimate court in this country. For strictly political reasons, the aforementioned have cost Florida taxpayers more than a million dollars in bills to carry forward this travesty.)
Alvaro F. Fernandez
The Honorable Alan Gold of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida today (April 14) issued a final order striking down the Florida Travel Act Amendments as unconstitutional and a violation of the Supremacy Clause.
In 2008, the Florida legislature amended the Florida Travel Act in an attempt to end travel to Cuba from Florida. The law imposed penalties on Cuban American travel agencies and charter companies doing business with Cuba. Governor Charlie Crist signed the legislation. The law required travel agencies engaged in travel to Cuba to post bonds that were 10 to 25 times higher than those required of other travel agencies. It made any violation of any state or federal law a third degree felony if it involved travel to Cuba, but punished violators engaged in travel to other countries with misdemeanors. It required far higher registration fees and imposed many other onerous and punitive requirements on companies involved in the travel business to Cuba.
In striking down the law, the Court cited the United States government’s public opposition to the Florida statute. The Court found that the Florida Travel Act amendments interfere with federal law and regulations, and the foreign policy of the United States. The Court also noted the recent changes in U.S. policy in lifting travel restrictions to Cuba for Cuban Americans and in blunt terms stated:
“The State of Florida is not entitled to adopt a foreign policy under our Constitution or interfere with the exclusive prerogative of the United States to establish a carefully balanced approach to relations with foreign countries, including Cuba.”
The Court entered a permanent injunction against the amendment and a declaratory judgment declaring the law unconstitutional.
Ira J. Kurzban, lead counsel for Plaintiff charter companies and travel agencies, hailed the judge’s decision as a “clear, unequivocal statement that the Florida legislature has no business conducting its own foreign policy. At a time when the state lacks resources,” he said, “Florida legislators should be focused on the issues that are important to Floridians instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to uphold clearly unconstitutional laws such as the Travel Act amendments.”