A Trump-appointed federal judge in Florida struck down the Biden administration’s mask mandate for public transportation on Monday, declaring the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) requirement “unlawful.”
“In pursuit of [combating the spread of COVID-19], the CDC issued the Mask Mandate. But the Mandate exceeded the CDC’s statutory authority, improperly invoked the good cause exception to notice and comment rulemaking, and failed to adequately explain its decisions,” US District Court Judge Kathryn Mizelle for the Middle District of Florida wrote in her ruling. “Because ‘our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends,” the Court declares unlawful and vacates the Mask Mandate.”
The lawsuit was filed in July last year by three plaintiffs, including the Health Freedom Defense Fund, which Mizelle described as a “non-profit organization that ‘opposes laws and regulations that force individuals to submit to the administration of medical products, procedures and devices against their will.”
The other two plaintiffs, Ana Daza and Sarah Pope, argued that the mask requirement aggravates anxiety conditions and provokes panic attacks.
The mask mandate was recently set to expire on April 18, but the Biden administration extended the order once again to early May.
“CDC continues to monitor the spread of the Omicron variant, especially the BA.2 subvariant that now makes up more than 85% of U.S. cases. Since early April, there have been increases in the 7-day moving average of cases in the U.S,” the CDC said in a press release last week. “The CDC Mask Order remains in effect while CDC assesses the potential impact of the rise of cases on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and healthcare system capacity. TSA will extend the security directive and emergency amendment for 15 days, through May 3, 2022.”
The decision comes roughly three weeks after nearly two dozen states asked a federal judge to block the Biden administration’s public transportation mask mandate, according to Reuters.
Several major airlines – including American Airlines United Airlines, Delta Air Lines – also urged President Joe Biden to end the mandate, CBS News reported.
“Now is the time for the administration to sunset federal transportation travel restrictions – including the international predeparture testing requirement and the federal mask mandate – that are no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment,” the CEOs of 10 U.S.-based airlines wrote in a letter to Biden.
“The persistent and steady decline of hospitalization and death rates are the most compelling indicators that our country is well protected against severe disease from COVID-19,” the letter continued. “Given that we have entered a different phase of dealing with this virus, we strongly support your view that ‘COVID-19 need no longer control our lives.'”