NFTC and USA*Engage Say Florida Governor Rick Scott Heeds the Constitution on Cuba, Syria Legislation, But Misses the Point

Wednesday, 2 May 2012
Washington, DC – The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) and USA*Engage today released the following statement regarding Florida Governor Rick Scott’s signing of a bill, HB 959, which prohibits companies from doing business with the state if they invest or have business operations in Cuba or Syria.

“We welcome Gov. Scott’s effective acknowledgement in his signing statement that the legislation is unconstitutional, but the fact remains that he signed the bill anyway, which will only continue the uncertainty and confusion over this fundamental point of law,” said NFTC President Bill Reinsch. “In Crosby v. NFTC in 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that in the case of sanctions, when the federal government has acted, the states are preempted. That case dealt specifically with a prohibition on state procurement, and HB 959 falls clearly within its ambit.”

“In the case of Syria and Cuba, the two countries affected by HB 959, the federal government has imposed sanctions and thus has clearly occupied the field, preempting state action,” said USA*Engage Director Richard Sawaya. “The right thing for Governor Scott to have done was to veto the bill and uphold the Constitution. Instead, having signed the bill, Florida will now be subject to extended debate, and ultimately expensive litigation, over whether and how to enforce it.”