The U.S. Appeals Court for the 11th Circuit on Friday vacated its recent decision that allowed the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention to enforce its COVID-19 safety rules related to the Florida cruise ship industry.

Just before the decision, Florida asked the United States Supreme Court to intervene and reverse the appeals court’s decision.
“I’m glad to see the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reverse its prior decision and free the cruise lines from unlawful CDC mandates, which effectively mothballed the industry for more than a year,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “The importance of this case extends beyond the cruise industry. From here on out a federal bureau will be on thin legal and constitutional ice if and when it attempts to exercise such sweeping authority that is not explicitly delineated by law.”

The 11th Circuit judges that rendered the decision included Judges Jill Pryor, Charles Wilson, and Elizabeth Branch. They  did not provide an explanation for the reversal, stating  the CDC “failed to demonstrate an entitlement to a stay pending appeal.”

The CDC responded Friday night.

“CDC remains committed to working with the cruise industry and seaport partners to ensure that the resumption of cruise ship passenger operations are conducted in a way that protects crew members, passengers, and port personnel, particularly with emerging COVID-19 variants of concern,” said agency spokesperson Caitlin Shockey.

Cruise ships operating out of Florida are still be required to report illnesses and deaths to the agency. In addition, the ships must abide by the federal mask mandate for public transportation.

The vacated decision cited the Nken v. Holder case, which states, “Arguing that the prospective injury to the public’s health exceeds the ongoing financial injury to Florida and the economic injury to Florida’s economy, CDC claims that absent the requirements imposed by the conditional sailing order, cruises ‘would likely exacerbate and amplify the spread’ of COVID-19.’”

Governor DeSantis was quick to respond to that decision.

“We are absolutely going to pursue getting 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,” DeSantis said during an appearance in Central Florida.

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Steve Stewart is the Managing Editor and a contributor at The Florida Capital Star. Email tips to sstewart@floridacapitalstar.com.