August 10, 2021
A federal judge’s temporary injection halted Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ ban on COVID vaccine passports for cruise rides. The federal judge, Kathleen Williams, was an Obama appointee and claimed that the prohibition of vaccine passports clearly violates the First Amendment.
Judge Williams wrote, “The statute is a content-based restriction because it singles out documentation regarding a particular subset matter … and subjects it to restrictions … that do not apply to documents regarding other topics.”
Furthermore, the judge pointed at the growing number of cases due to the delta variant throughout the country and mentioned the concern for cruises planning to set sail amidst the crisis despite being shut down a year ago.
Earlier this year, DeSantis had signed an agreement that barred companies from asking for the vaccination status of customers; this legislation came into effect on July 1, stating that any violation of this law will cost the company a huge fine of $5,000 per customer.
Later, a spokesperson for DeSantis’ office said, “We disagree with the judge’s legal reasoning and will be appealing to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. A prohibition on vaccine passports does not even implicate, let alone violate, anyone’s speech rights, and it furthers the substantial, local interest of preventing discrimination among customers based on private health information.”