Court Ruling Blocks Florida Restrictions on Sellers of Travel

U.S. District Court Judge Alan S. Gold has issued a permanent injunction barring Florida from enforcing a law that would have imposed exorbitant bonding and registration fees on travel agents who book trips to any nation designated by the State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism, namely, Iran, Syria, Cuba and Sudan. ASTA participated as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) and the court-issued opinion endorses arguments advanced by the Association. The act required travel agencies in Florida selling trips to the designated state sponsors to post up to a $250,000 bond and pay up to $25,000 in registration fees.

"By taking legal action in Florida, ASTA has successfully assisted in safeguarding its core principle–the fundamental right to travel," said Chris Russo, president and chair of ASTA. "Freedom of travel is a right that is not only sacred to our association but also to our entire country. It is protected by the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment and is globally recognized under various international conventions and treaties. We commend Judge Gold for his wise decision in this case."

In its amicus brief, submitted September 10, 2008, ASTA had challenged the 2008 Sellers of Travel Act approved by Florida's Legislature and signed into law by Governor Charlie Crist. In its legal brief, ASTA also argued that the amendments to Florida's Seller of Travel Law are unconstitutional under the Federal Foreign Affairs powers, the Supremacy Clause and the Foreign Commerce Clause.

Judge Gold substantially agreed with ASTA's conclusions and held that Florida is "not entitled to adopt a foreign policy under our Constitution or interfere with the exclusive prerogative of the United States to establish a carefully balanced approach to relations with foreign countries, including Cuba."


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