Federal Judge Roger Vinson today in Pensacola denied a request for an emergency preliminary injunction in favor of Mike Huckabee and other Florida beachfront landowners against a Walton County order closing the beach in front of their houses during the coronavirus crisis.
The hearing was closed to the public. Only attorneys joined the conference call. But the federal court record notes the judge heard arguments for the order and “orally denied it.”
Huckabee has a $3 million house on Santa Rosa beach near Destin. He pulled political strings to concoct a way to keep the public off the beach between the high tide line and his property, effectively ending decades of public access to the sugar sand beach. The state has had several local fights on beach closure since the pandemic, with the governor resisting a statewide ban. But some counties, such as Walton, have banned all beach use to promote social distancing.
Mike and Janet Huckabee and 14 others sued, complaining that this amounted to an unconstitutional “taking” of their property and prevented them from using their “backyards.”
Technially, today’s order denied a motion for a temporary restraining order until the underlying lawsuit could be decided. The decision means the chances of the success of the lawsuit are slim.