A federal judge blocked a national mask mandate related to airlines and other public transportation.
The lawsuit was related to rules implemented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Through the pandemic, the CDC and the White House have continually required passengers on airlines and public transportation to wear masks while traveling.
The lawsuit was filed in July 2021 by two plaintiffs and the Health Freedom Defense Fund, described in the judge’s order as a nonprofit group that “opposes laws and regulations that force individuals to submit to the administration of medical products, procedures, and devices against their will.”
The order was handed down Monday by U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa, FL. The Trump-appointed Mizelle claimed in the ruling that the CDC failed to give adequate justification for its initial mask mandate. The court ruling also stated that the CDC did not follow proper protocol in rulemaking, giving the court the authority to rule on the case.
According to the court ruling, different transportation entities will be free to determine their own rules and regulations for COVID protocols without being compelled to follow the CDC’s recommendations.
Some airlines have not made public statements regarding their plans for continuing a mask mandate. In contrast, other airlines have publicly stated that they would no longer require their customers to follow CDC guidelines.
United Airlines said in a statement that, effective immediately, masks would no longer be required on domestic flights or certain international flights.
“While this means that our employees are no longer required to wear a mask – and no longer have to enforce a mask requirement for most of the flying public – they will be able to wear masks if they choose to do so, as the CDC continues to strongly recommend wearing a mask on public transit,” United stated.
Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines also made similar announcements.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey took to social media to express support for the ruling, stating that it was long past time.
Good. It’s well past time. https://t.co/Bk9Gl9AhFA— Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) April 18, 2022
In March, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall joined the lawsuit against the CDC mask mandates.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the CDC has repeatedly overstepped its legal authority with impunity,” Marshall said. “It has done so based upon its flawed reliance on a limited federal statute authorizing traditional quarantine measures directly related to preventing the interstate spread of the disease. Despite courts consistently ruling against the CDC’s ‘unprecedented assertion of power,’ including a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against the CDC in a case brought by the Alabama Association of Realtors in 2021, the CDC remains defiant.”
The CDC has just recently extended the mask mandate until May 3. The mandate was scheduled to expire on April 18. to allow more time to study the BA.2 Omicron subvariant of the coronavirus, which is the dominant variant recently reported in the U.S.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also announced his support of the ruling.
Great to see a federal judge in Florida follow the law and reject the Biden transportation mask mandate. Both airline employees and passengers deserve to have this misery end.— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 18, 2022
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email [email protected].