Gov. DeSantis ‘disappointed’ by decision to stay ruling to lift CDC no sail order

Governor remains confident state will win legal fight over cruising

In a win for the CDC, a federal appeals court has granted a hold on a US district judge’s ruling that backed Florida in a fight about the cruise-ship industry.

POINCIANA, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a news conference Monday he remains confident that Florida will win its legal battle to lift orders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that are preventing cruise ships from sailing out of U.S. ports.

A federal judge had recently ruled in Florida’s favor in its lawsuit against the CDC seeking to lift a no sail order which has prevented cruise ships from using U.S. ports since March 2020.

The ruling called for the order to be lifted on July 18, but on Saturday the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a motion made by the CDC to put that ruling on hold while appeals are underway.

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“So we are absolutely going to pursue to get the state removed, either at the full 11th circuit or at the US Supreme Court,” DeSantis said. “I’m confident that we’d win on the merits, at the full 11th circuit and, honestly, I’m confident we’d win at the US Supreme Court.”

The CDC put in a request on July 7 for the court to issue a stay after U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday refused to put on hold his June 18 ruling that the CDC overstepped its legal authority in placing cruising restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initial ruling from Merryday granted the preliminary injunction in a 124-page ruling, which would have made the CDC’s rules a “recommendation” or “guideline.”

Attorneys representing the CDC wrote in the initial request that the injunction “rests on errors of law and is a clear abuse of the district court’s discretion” and argued it will “exacerbate the spread of COVID-19.”

DeSantis has argued that the CDC’s no sail order is a case of government overreach.

“It raises a bigger question. Can you just have one agency and the government without Congress ever passing a law — just basically shutting down an industry?” he said. “Maybe you don’t care about the cruise industry, but next time it might be your industry. Next time, it may affect people that you know or people that depend on this for their livelihood. So, I think it raises a lot of important implications.”

The stay comes as Disney’s cruise line left from Port Canaveral Saturday for a test cruise with volunteer Disney employees. It was the first cruise ship to depart from the port with passengers since the pandemic.

The port is also getting ready for its first revenue sailing with the Carnival Mardi Gras on July 31.

The governor’s office also released a statement about the decision to stay the federal judge’s ruling. Read the full statement below:

“We are disappointed that the Obama and Clinton-appointed appellate judges found it appropriate to stay the trial court’s injunction and thus continue the CDC’s unlawful stronghold on an entire industry — costing Florida and its tourism industry hundreds of millions of dollars. While we remain confident in eventual success on the actual merits of this litigation, we are considering options for immediate appeal to reinstate the trial court’s injunction that enjoined the CDC’s No Sail Orders as unconstitutional and lacking congressional authority.”

About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.