A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a ruling that struck down a Florida law prohibiting the state and local governments from hiring companies with business ties to Cuba. The ruling continues to block the 2012 law from taking effect.
The law “conflicts directly with the extensive and highly calibrated federal regime of sanctions against Cuba promulgated by the legislative and executive branches over almost fifty years,” 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stanley Marcus wrote on behalf of a three-judge panel in the unanimous opinion.
The judges ruled in favor of Odebrecht USA, the Coral Gables firm that had challenged the law approved by a near-unanimous majority of state legislators and signed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott. The Florida Department of Transportation had appealed the preliminary injunction issued last year by U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore, who opined the legislation interfered with the federal government’s power to set foreign policy.
The appeals court, Marcus wrote, had “little difficulty” in affirming Moore’s ruling. Signaling their eventual position, the three clearly skeptical appeals judges pointedly questioned FDOT’s lawyer at a hearing in March.
Odebrecht USA, a subsidiary of the Brazilian engineering and construction giant, sued over the law, which would prohibit any Florida or local government agencies from awarding contracts worth at least $1 million to U.S. firms whose foreign-owned parent companies or subsidiaries work in Cuba or Syria. An affiliate of Odebrecht USA’s Brazilian parent company is significantly expanding the Cuban Port of Mariel.