PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. - Arguing that Florida is at risk of losing billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody on Thursday filed a lawsuit against federal health officials for sidelining the cruise industry.
The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Tampa, asks a federal judge to lift restrictions imposed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that have idled cruise ships in the U.S. for more than a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"We don’t believe the federal government has the right to mothball a major industry for over a year based on very little evidence and very little data," Governor DeSantis said.
The governor has put his foot down, but the move may not mean much.
"The legal chances of success of Governor DeSantis’ lawsuit against the CDC are maybe just a click above zero," said maritime lawyer Michael Winkleman.
Winkelman broke down what he thinks the action will actually accomplish.
"I think so much of that has to do with the fact that the CDC has given really broad discretion to be able to do their job as they see fit. Of course, their job is to keep Americans safe," Winkleman said.
Winkelman says there may have been a better approach to this, such as working with the CDC, like the cruise industry has been doing, to come up with a functional framework.
"Essentially, all of the arguments that are put forward in the complaints against the CDC are that the CDC didn’t do their job right, they exceeded their authority, they didn’t give them notice. I don’t see any validity on its face to any of those arguments," Winkelman said.
At the least, leaders at Port Canaveral hope the lawsuit will shake the Feds branches.
"It’s time to do something to get them to react because they seem to be failing to react in every way possible to getting this industry back up and running and getting our people back to work," said Captain John Murray, Port Canaveral’s chief executive officer.