Federal Judge Lawrence King on Tuesday ruled the New Year’s curfew imposed by the city of Key West does not violate the protection of the U.S. Constitution and denied an injunction that would have prohibited enforcement.

Andrew Day, a Key West resident, filed the lawsuit, saying the city’s emergency policy was in violation of his First Amendment rights. On Monday, December 28, the day before the hearing, the city clarified its emergency policy to clarify that the New Year’s limit on public gatherings was passed in good faith and that the public interest exceeds the plaintiff’s claims.

Day’s attorney, William Athas, of Miami, related his case directly to the protection afforded by the U.S. Constitution, arguing that those rights remain in place even in emergencies. Athas claimed the city’s curfew would keep 25,000 citizens in their homes for three nights, an unreasonable burden, citing a recent case ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of the Catholic Diocese of New York in which judges said the Constitution cannot be put aside, even during a pandemic.

King decided otherwise, writing, “The City of Key West has a significant government interest in preserving and protecting the health of its citizens. The Key West emergency policy is tightly tailored to a period of eight hours over three evenings and leaves numerous alternative modes of communication and meeting open. The directive therefore survives an intermediate examination. “

More than 140 viewers attended the online hearing on Tuesday morning.

– Key West Chamber of Commerce

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