TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA/AP) – A federal judge has sided with Norwegian Cruise Line in its case challenging a Florida law prohibiting cruise companies from demanding that passengers show written proof of coronavirus vaccination before they board a ship.
Judge Kathleen Williams ruled Sunday Florida’s law banning businesses from requiring customers to be vaccinated is unconstitutional on grounds of free speech.
“The First Amendment, applicable to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment, prohibits the enactment of laws ‘abridging the freedom of speech’… Pursuant to this clause, a state ‘has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content,’” the ruling states.
Norwegian initially contended the “vaccine passport” ban, signed into law in May by Gov. Ron DeSantis, jeopardizes the health and safety of passengers and crew and is an unconstitutional infringement on the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee, among other things.
Now, the cruise line will be allowed to require vaccinations for its passengers on Florida cruises, allowing the company to sail its first cruise, the Norwegian Gem, from the Sunshine State on Aug. 15.
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