The Will of Taxpayers Will Ultimately Prevail
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit (“the Court”) has upheld a challenge by Brazil’s Odebrecht against a Florida law banning contracts with companies with business ties to Cuba and Syria.
This law was passed by a near-unanimous vote in the Florida legislature and approved by over 62% of Miami-Dade County voters.
Sadly, Odebrecht — a key business partner of Cuba’s dictatorship — chose to legally challenge the will of Florida’s taxpayers, rather than sever its ties with the Castro brothers.
In sum, the Court held that the Florida law “conflicts” with federal sanctions towards Cuba because it fails to address some of the current exemptions in U.S. law — namely the cash-sale of agriculture and medical products.
We respectfully disagree with this decision, for under its controlling precedent in Faculty Senate of Florida International University v. Winn, 616 F.3d 1206 (11th Cir. 2010), the Court upheld a state ban on academic travel to Cuba, despite an explicit exemption for academic travel under federal law.
Furthermore, we believe taxpayers have an inherent right to decide where (and with whom) they want their money spent.
Needless to say, we respect the Court’s decision.
Fortunately though, we live in a representative democracy, where the voice and the will of the taxpayer will ultimately prevail.