Crossposted from Via Miami Herald
The recently passed Florida law that essentially bans state academic travel to Cuba promised to escalate into a constitutional battle when Gov. Jeb Bush signed it into law last month.
The American Civil Liberties Union, representing several professors from state universities, filed a lawsuit against Florida officials in federal court, claiming the travel ban is unconstitutional. The group also demands a temporary injunction to prevent the law from taking effect while the case is in court.
''This act is terribly misdirected,'' Randall Marshall, legal director of the ACLU of Florida, said of the new law. "This is unconstitutional, and we hope to have this law struck down very shortly.''
The Florida Masochist has the right question:
Tell me Mr. Marshall where it says in the constitution that taxpayer money must be used to support travel? Anywhere in the world? I'll await your reply but I doubt I'll get one.
The new law prohibits spending state money on any aspect of organizing a trip to any of the five nations on the U.S. State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.
Other plaintiffs named in the suit include the faculty senate of FIU; Jose Alvarez, professor emeritus at the University of Florida; Carmen Diana Deere, director and professor at the University of Florida's Center for Latin American Studies; Houman Sadri, associate professor at the University of Central Florida; and Noel Smith, curator of Latin American and Caribbean Art at the University of South Florida.
The academics worry that the travel ban will discourage top students who have an interest in studying Cuba or other countries on the list from remaining at Florida schools.
This law is a very responsible move on the part of the state. The argument that it will discourage study in these countries and therefore diminish our security is crazy. We are at war despite the attitudes of some to recognize it. Why in the world should the state use its funds to put Americans in harms way where they could be taken hostage and a myriad of other terrible things done to them?
I will repeat my opinion from when the ACLU first announced their opposition to the law.
This law is straight up common sense, and if the ACLU were truly concerned for the security of Americans they would be applauding it. The law does not prevent anyone from actually travelling to these countries, it only prohibits taxpayer funds from paying for it. If professors and students want to travel to these dangerous countries they can do it at their own risk, and their own dime. Perhaps the ACLU are disappointed that the taxpayer will not be paying their fare to visit their clients? If so, I'm sure they have plenty enough duped supporters that would gladly donate.
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