Politics & Government

Restrictions on student exchanges to Cuba upheld

WASHINGTON — A U.S. appeals court rejected a lawsuit Tuesday challenging federal regulations that heavily restrict Americans enrolling in overseas study in Cuba.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the regulations don't violate presumed rights to academic freedom and due process as argued by a group of more than 400 academic professionals that calls itself the Emergency Coalition to Defend Educational Travel, which brought the legal action.

The regulations were included in 2004 amendments to Cuba travel restrictions and, among other measures, require that programs that use the academic exemption last for a full academic term. Previously, some courses had run only a few weeks. The regulations also require Americans who are studying in Cuba to enroll only in programs offered there by their own academic institutions.

The plaintiffs argued that the amendments virtually shut down all courses offered in Cuba by U.S. universities, while the court ruled that the restrictions didn't violate any presumed right to academic freedom because they are "content-neutral and supported by an important and substantial government interest," said the opinion by Judge Laurence Silberman.

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