Cue the Hallelujah Chorus.
A federal judge gave Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody a win Friday. It granted her request for an injunction against cruise industry rules imposed by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.
Boy, did she ever need that because lately, she has been on the wrong side of several high-profile cases — for instance, the 7-2 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to reject the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act.
It was the third time the high court rejected a challenge against Obamacare, and, please Lord, make it the last time. Strike three, you’re out.
Florida got involved in 2018, thanks to former Attorney General Pam Bondi. She joined 17 other deep-red states in an attempt to strip health coverage from millions of Americans.
After taking office, Moody continued Florida’s involvement in the case. It never had a chance.
The challengers lost the argument that the ACA’s individual mandate harmed Americans. That’s because, in 2017, Republicans eliminated the financial penalty for those who didn’t sign up for insurance.
Moody must have known the futility of arguing against something that doesn’t exist, but she did it anyway.
“Unsurprisingly, the states have not demonstrated that an unenforceable mandate will cause their residents to enroll in valuable benefits programs that they would otherwise forgo,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the majority opinion.
He added, “What is that relief? The plaintiffs did not obtain damages. Nor, as we just said, did the plaintiffs obtain an injunction in respect to the provision they attack as unconstitutional. But, more than that: How could they have sought any such injunction? The provision is unenforceable. There is no one, and nothing, to enjoin.”
Speaking of nothing to enjoin, remember what she did last December? Moody inexplicably involved Florida in the futile attempt by Texas to overturn President Joe Biden’s election.
“The integrity and resolution of the 2020 election is of paramount performance,” Moody said.
Well, of course, it is. And I think we’d all agree Florida had a textbook election in 2020. But then, the Trumpies started pouting, and we know what happened next. All the good Republicans fell in line behind their Dear Leader.
That includes our Attorney General.
Moody asked the court to “weigh the legal arguments” of the Texas assertion that the election was rigged.
Asked and answered.
“Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections,” the Court said in a 1-page ruling. The justices dismissed other pending motions “as moot.”
That’s legalese for, “You’re freaking kidding, right?”
Also, Moody’s challenge to Biden’s immigration policy so far hasn’t gone anywhere, and probably won’t.
This is a good time to mention that Moody promised to keep politics out of her office.
“In my term as Attorney General, I will never do the bidding of anyone except the people of the state of Florida,” Moody told Politico.
OK, then explain this. She asked for an investigation to see if Michael Bloomberg broke any rules by helping pay fines for ex-felons. Once their fines are paid, they can register to vote, and that might swing an election to Democrats.
Why did she get involved with that?
Politico said Gov. Ron DeSantis asked her to take action. For the record, he’s a politician.
Is it any wonder people are such cynics today when it comes to their leaders?
Now, on to our weekly game of Winners and Losers.
Honorable mention — The Tampa Bay Times: The saying goes that if you can back it up, it’s not bragging. The self-proclaimed best newspaper in the state won its 13th Pulitzer Prize, which reinforces its claim.
The Times captured the top prize in local reporting for its penetrating look at policing tactics in Pasco County. Called Targeted, the project focused on a controversial program by Sheriff Chris Nocco that predicts who is likely to commit crimes.
Like something out of a George Orwell novel, officers then continually harass those people identified by the program.
Reporters Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi did the work.
The Pulitzer Board noted their “resourceful, creative reporting” that exposed a program that “harassed residents and used grades and child welfare records to profile schoolchildren.”
“What Kathleen and Neil unearthed in Pasco County has had a profound impact on the community,” Times Executive Director Mark Katches said. “This is what the best investigative journalism can do and why it is so essential.”
The Times navigates the same treacherous financial waters nearly every newspaper does. It cut back print publication to two days a week. Employees endured layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts.
Work like this should remind everyone, though, about the need for robust local journalism. It’s important, and even the “fake news” crowd should acknowledge that.
The almost (but not quite) biggest winner — Florida’s Obamacare recipients: The Supreme Court ruling that rejected the latest Republican challenge to Obamacare was great news for any Floridian in need of health care.
The state has more than 2 million people enrolled in the health care exchanges. That’s the highest number in the nation.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra called it “a victory for all Americans.”
“Health care should be a right — not a privilege just for the healthy and wealthy,” he added.
Florida had 3.8 million uninsured people in 2013, but through Obamacare, that number has fallen 34%.
Last November, at the height of the pandemic, more than 870,000 Floridians signed up for coverage.
Republicans repeatedly promised during the Trump administration to repeal the ACA and replace it with something better.
The truth is, all they know is that they hate this program intensely.
They don’t seem to care what it does to the people it serves.
The Supreme Court, for the third time, had other ideas.
The biggest winner(s) — Cruise ships and DeSantis: The Governor has pointedly mocked the CDC for its stance on Florida’s cruise industry in the face of COVID-19.
Well, guess what? A federal judge agrees with him and landed a haymaker onto the CDC’s regulatory power.
In Tampa, U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday granted a preliminary injunction against the CDC and its sailing order, beginning July 18. After that, the CDC’s “order” will remain, but only as a suggestion.
“This order finds that Florida is highly likely to prevail on the merits of the claim that CDC’s conditional sailing order and the implementing orders exceed the authority delegated to CDC,” Merryday wrote.
The order also said the CDC could not keep children and families from cruising. Also, no federal agency can require a vaccine passport. I can picture DeSantis dancing with glee over that one.
As the pandemic spread like a brush fire last year, the CDC issued a no-sale order. It shut down the cruise industry and cost thousands of jobs. The South Florida Business Journal reported that Florida accounted for 60% of all passenger embarkations in the U.S. in 2019.
To be fair, the CDC documented more than 800 COVID-19 cases on cruise ships, including 10 deaths.
Florida is home to the three of the busiest cruise ports in the United States: Miami, Canaveral, and Everglades.
DeSantis was giddy, almost standing over the defeated CDC like a boxer who just scored a knockout.
“The CDC has been wrong all along, and they knew it,” he said. “The CDC and the Biden Administration concocted a plan to sink the cruise industry, hiding behind bureaucratic delay and lawsuits.”
He hailed it as a victory for Florida families and the cruise industry. And, oh yeah, for all states that want to be safe from federal overreach.
Dishonorable mention — Brooksville: The Tampa Bay Times reported that this lovely little Central Florida town accidentally sold its water tower.
Don’t worry, they got it back, but for a while, the tower was in limbo-land.
It started when a gentleman named Bobby Read approached city leaders about buying a building with a garage at the tower’s base to open a gym.
Why, sure, the city said. So they worked out a deal to sell the structure to Read for $55,000. In going over the fine print, the Times reported, “Read told city officials he thought the legal description was more extensive than what he was buying. But officials signed over the property anyway, using the legal description they had.”
When he went to the property appraiser to get an address for his gym, hey, guess what! You own the water tower! Congratulations!
Not to worry, though. Read, with no fuss, deeded the tower back to the city. But is this a Flori-DUH story, or what?
Almost (but not quite) biggest loser — U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack: Over-the-top oratory seems to be the order of this or any other day, but the Gainesville Republican went into orbit even by that standard.
On Fox & Friends (where else), Cammack uttered these words.
“Let’s be honest, our college campuses these days, these aren’t higher education institutions,” Cammack said. “These are indoctrination camps.”
Let’s be honest. That’s idiotic.
If they’re so good at indoctrinating, how was Donald Trump ever elected? How come Florida hasn’t had a Democratic Governor in this century?
It’s the typical bile that hard right-wingers love to spew when they can’t otherwise win an argument.
They lost an election, so Democrats must have cheated. And those snooty, smarter-than-thou professors keep filling students’ heads with all that free speech stuff. They’re teaching them to think on their own.
Get over it.
The biggest loser(s) — U.S. Reps Matt Gaetz and Greg Steube: Your government at work. Gaetz and Steube were among 21 GOP members of Congress voting against awarding a congressional gold medal to the Capitol Police officers who responded to the January 6 insurrection.
Steube’s office released a statement that oddly echoes Trump’s “I like people who weren’t captured” statement about John McCain.
“There is no reason that Congress should now award the highest civilian medal to leaders who failed in protecting the Capitol, which led to their resignation and the shooting of an unarmed woman, just so Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi can check the box and say she supports law enforcement a week after Pelosi-led Democrats attacked the police by ending their qualified immunity and taking away their protective equipment,” the statement said.
Leaders who “failed in protecting the Capitol.”
The medal doesn’t go to the “leaders.” Instead, it goes to the officers who put their lives on the line when a Trump-inspired mob attacked the United States seat of government.
The riot was a horrifying spectacle. Steube and Gaetz and their 19 colleagues who voted no should be ashamed.