Washington, DC – The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) and USA*Engage applauded an August 29, 2008 ruling by the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida that overturned portions of a Florida state law designed to prevent state universities from funding academic travel to Cuba and other countries on the U.S. Department of State list of terrorist nations.
The Court ruled that the portion of the Florida law prohibiting the use of private and non-state funds for such trips was unconstitutional, citing precedent set in a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring a Massachusetts law that prohibited firms doing business with Myanmar (Burma) from obtaining state contracts. The Burma Law was challenged by the National Foreign Trade Council, and unanimously overturned by the Supreme Court as a violation of Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.
“The Courts have been clear, states and local governments should not be in the business of setting foreign policy,” said Jake Colvin, NFTC Vice President for Global Trade Issues. “Florida’s attempt to undermine the ability of academic institutions to pursue their mission through international travel was not only unconstitutional but misguided. The United States should encourage international travel at every turn, particularly to places like Cuba where ordinary Americans would be superb ambassadors of freedom and democracy.”