Florida vs. Norwegian Cruise Line fight over ‘vaccine passport’ goes to appeals court

Governor previously banned use of vaccine passports in Florida

The Norwegian Gem cruise ship is shown docked, Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, at PortMiami in Miami. (Wilfredo Lee, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has gone to a federal appeals court in a battle with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings about so-called “vaccine passports.”

Attorneys for the state filed a notice of appeal Tuesday after U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams on Sunday cleared the way for Norwegian to require passengers to show documentation of vaccination against COVID-19.

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State lawmakers in April passed a measure that sought to bar businesses, including cruise lines, from requiring such documentation --- known as vaccine passports.

Norwegian challenged the ban, and Williams sided with its arguments that the state law violates the First Amendment and what is known as the dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

As is common, the notice filed Tuesday did not detail arguments the state will make at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The vaccine passport ban has been a priority of DeSantis, though the lawsuit names state Surgeon General Scott Rivkees as the defendant.