An attorney who gained national prominence in a legal fight over beach access now wants them all closed down.
Santa Rosa Beach attorney Daniel Uhlfelder has sued Gov. Ron DeSantis to close all of Florida’s beaches.
In a complaint filed in the Second Judicial Circuit, Uhlfelder contends DeSantis “has the responsibility to initiate immediate action to cope with the emerging health problems and try to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.”
The suit notes that DeSantis on Friday ordered beaches in Palm Beach and Broward counties closed, but has largely left the decision to local governments.
DeSantis has issued an executive order limiting gatherings on Florida beaches to 10 people or less. That’s in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to limit the community spread of the novel coronavirus.
But with beachgoers violating that routinely, particularly with spring breakers visiting the state, there has been an increasing public call for DeSantis to stop all beach visitation statewide.
It’s not universal. VISIT FLORIDA chair Virginia Haley said she supports letting local governments make the decision.
“There are different parts of the state with different highs and lows,” she said. “There are beaches in the state that are not crowded.”
But U.S. Sen. Rick Scott and 13 Congressional Democrats representing Florida have called for DeSantis to shut down all beaches in the state.
If the Governor won’t take that action himself, Uhlfelder said the courts should compel him to do so.
Uhlfelder previously gained prominence in a legal battle with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, now a resident of Fort Walton Beach, over the ability to limit access to beaches.
Huckabee filed a bar complaint against Uhlfelder over the matter, and the attorney leveraged the attention to form a Super PAC.
The suit filed Friday was brought against DeSantis in his capacity as Governor and filed in Leon County because that’s where state government is headquartered.