(CN) – Florida can refuse to cover the travel expenses of state university professors and researchers who visit countries listed as state sponsors of terrorism, the 11th Circuit ruled.
Florida law blocks the state from reimbursing university employees in connection with their travel to state sponsors of terrorism.
A group of professors and researchers at various state universities claimed the Florida law gets in the way of federal policies, such as the government’s regulations on travel with Cuba.
But the federal appeals court in Atlanta said the law doesn’t clash sharply with federal law or policy.
Rather, the state law’s “brush with federal law and the foreign affairs of the United States is too indirect, minor, incidental, and peripheral to trigger the Supremacy Clause’s — undoubted — overriding power,” the ruling states.
The court also pointed out that Florida’s law does not prohibit or penalize anyone for traveling to countries that sponsor terrorism, nor does it obstruct trade between the countries.
“Florida’s law is narrow,” the judges wrote. “It only prohibits spending Florida’s money to facilitate travel to countries determined by the federal government (not especially selected by Florida) to sponsor terrorism.”
The court partially reversed a federal judge’s ruling that Florida can deny reimbursement with state money, but not with private grant money.
In the 11th Circuit’s view, Florida can refuse to reimburse such travel costs with any money, public or private.