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The Norwegian Gem, a Jewel-class cruise ship of Norwegian Cruise Line, docked at the Port of Miami, Miami Beach, Florida in April 14. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

A federal judge in Miami granted Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings a preliminary injunction on Sunday night in its lawsuit challenging Florida's vaccine passports ban.

Why it matters: Per a statement from Norwegian, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams' order will allow the cruise line giant to "operate in the safest way possible with 100% vaccination of all guests and crew when sailing from Florida ports."

  • Its Norwegian Gem ship is due to depart Miami on Aug. 15 — marking the company's first trip from Florida since the pandemic halted cruise industry operations last year.
  • U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams' decision is a blow for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) — who signed a bill in May prohibiting businesses from requiring customers show proof that they've received COVID-19 vaccines, saying getting inoculated should be a "personal choice."
  • Florida's ban came into effect on July 1 and Norwegian faced a fine of up to $5,000 for every violation.

What they're saying: Williams wrote in her order that she reached the decision because Florida had failed to "provide a valid evidentiary, factual, or legal predicate" for the ban.

  • Williams also noted "scientific research shows that cruise lines are hotbeds for COVID-19 transmission" and that Norwegian "has demonstrated that public health will be jeopardized if it is required to suspend its vaccination requirement."

The big picture: Coronavirus hospitalizations and cases are surging across Florida. DeSantis has blamed the spike on a "seasonal pattern" and "media hysteria."

  • In a separate case, Florida's attorney general has asked the Supreme Court to block the CDC's protocols requiring cruise lines to meet specific conditions before setting sail again.

What to watch: Peter Patterson, representing Florida and state Surgeon General Scott Rivkees at a court hearing on Friday, indicated that the state may take the Norwegian case to the U.S. Supreme Court, Politico notes.

  • The Florida Department of Health and the Florida governor's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Read Williams' order, first obtained by Politico, in full via DocumentCloud:

Go deeper

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Top Democrat predicts "nastiness" for Florida's 2022 legislative session

The Florida Capitol. Photo: Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Nothing about Florida's current political discourse would lead you to believe that our representatives are nearing something resembling peace and understanding — and that's not changing anytime soon.

What's happening: State Rep. Evan Jenne, the House Democratic caucus' co-leader, expects a "knock-down, drag-out" legislative session next year, full of "nastiness and controversy" ahead of the 2022 midterms, per Florida Politics.

Rahm Emanuel questioned on murder of Laquan McDonald in confirmation hearing

Rahm Emanuel during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Oct. 20. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke about the murder of Laquan McDonald during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to become the U.S. ambassador to Japan, saying that "there's not a day or a week that has gone by in the last seven years I haven't thought about this."

Catch up quick: McDonald was a Black teenager who was fatally shot 16 times by Chicago police during Emanuel's tenure as the city's mayor. The 2014 shooting triggered massive protests, both because of its nature and the fact that the officers' body-cam footage was concealed for years.

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