The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of a state law banning public universities from using any funds for research and travel to Cuba.
The ACLU, representing the faculty of Florida International University and other professors, is appealing a ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which reversed a 2006 decision by U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz in Miami declaring the law unconstitutional.
"This law allows Florida to be the only state in the country with its own foreign policy which runs over, above and contrary to the foreign policy of the United States," said Howard Simon, executive director of the Florida ACLU.
The state law prohibits professors, scientists and students from using public university funds for work in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.
The 11th Circuit decided restricting publicly funded travel was "not beyond a state's valid powers."
The petition filed Friday claims the law "meddles with foreign commerce by imposing restrictions on commerce with certain foreign nations that exceed the restrictions already imposed by federal law."
Paul F. Brinkman of Alston & Bird in Washington is serving as ACLU counsel in the case along with the Flordia ACLU legal director Randall Marshall.
"Crude censorship like this only serves to keep Americans uninformed," Simon said.
The state attorney general's office, which has defended the law, did not respond to a call for comment by deadline.