A federal judge on Monday struck down the Biden administration’s mask mandate for planes, airports, trains and other public transportation.
A lawsuit was filed last July by two individuals along with the Health Freedom Defense Fund.
The suit named the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and various government officials as defendants, seeking a declaratory judgment to have the mandate deemed unlawful.
U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, appointed to the Middle District of Florida, ruled Monday that the CDC’s mandate exceeds its authority and violates the procedures required for agency rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act.
“It is indisputable that the public has a strong interest in combating the spread of COVID-19. In pursuit of that end, 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,” the ruling said.
“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 ruling said.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA issued a statement urging “calm and consistency” in the airports and on planes following the ruling.
“We will soon have more legal analysis on what this means and what next steps may be taken in court by the government. We urge focus on clear communication so that Flight Attendants and other frontline workers are not subject to more violence created by uncertainty and confusion,” the association said.
“It takes a minimum of 24-48 hours to implement new procedures and communicate this throughout the entire network. Policies and procedures must be updated and thoroughly communicated to hundreds of thousands of employees, along with millions of travelers. Announcements and signage, electronic and physical must be updated,” the statement said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday afternoon that the ruling was “disappointing” and the CDC and DHS were reviewing the ruling.
Texas Public Policy Foundation Executive Director and General Counsel Rob Henneke said that the judge “correctly held that that CDC transportation mask mandate was unlawful and violated the Administrative Procedure Act.”
“The Court’s order vacates the CDC Mask Mandate, which will be effective for all persons nationwide as soon as final judgment is entered by the Clerk of the Court,” Henneke said.