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Judge rules federal public transportation mask mandate illegal

Topline

A federal judge on Monday rejected the federal government’s mask mandate for airports, airplanes and other public transportation, ruling that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention exceeded his authority by imposing the mask requirement days after the agency extended it for another two weeks.

Highlights

US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, issued a decision who declared the mask mandate illegal and blocked it by leave order and return it to the CDC “for further processing.”

The anti-warrant fund for the defense of health freedom had for follow-up the CDC and federal officials in July over the mask requirement, asking the court to declare the order illegal and void it under the Administrative Procedure Act.

Mizelle ruled that the CDC does not have the authority to impose the mask mandate under the Public Health Services Act of 1944, saying the law only allows the CDC to impose measures related to “the inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, extermination of pests [and]
destruction” to curb the transmission of disease and wearing a mask does not fall under any of these.

The CDC also erred in not having an adequate public comment period before imposing the mandate, Mizelle said, and said the mask mandate is “arbitrary and capricious” because the agency does not did not sufficiently explain the reasoning behind its imposition.

While the feds had asked Mizelle to simply block the warrant as it applied to plaintiffs who challenged it, the judge said she had to reject the entire warrant because “the difficulty of distinguishing” the plaintiffs of fellow travelers “almost guarantees that a limited remedy is no remedy at all.

The CDC has not yet responded to a request for comment on the decision and its practical implications, including whether the mask mandate is no longer in effect.

crucial quote

“There is no doubt that the public has a strong interest in combating the spread of [Covid-19]Mizelle wrote in his opinion, citing an earlier decision in another case and noting that the CDC imposed its mask mandate “in pursuit of that end.” The judge wrote that the court is “still finding unlawful and voiding the mask warrant” anyway, because “our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends.”

Surprising fact

Mizelle was just 33 when she was appointed to the federal bench in 2020, and the American Bar Association rated her “unqualified” for the job due to her lack of experience. “Since her call to the bar, Ms. Mizelle has not tried any case, civil or criminal, as lead or co-counsel,” the ABA wrote in a statement. letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, noting that Mizelle was not admitted to practice law until 2012, which is a “rather marked departure” from the minimum 12 years of experience recommended for federal judges.

Large number

60%. That’s the share of Harris poll respondents who said in early April that they want the federal mask’s mandate extended. A Morning Consult survey similarly, at least three in five respondents support customers and employees wearing masks on planes, although a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll was more divided, with a narrow majority of 51% saying they wanted that the mask’s federal mandate expires.

Key Context

The CDC first imposed its federal mask mandate shortly after President Joe Biden took office in February 2021. Although the order was set to expire on Monday, the CDC announced last week that it would extend the mask mandate for an additional two weeks in light of a further increase in Covid. -19 cases linked to the highly transmissible omicron BA.2 subvariant. The CDC had also said it was developing a “framework” to determine when the masks should be required once the order expires, which could depend on factors such as the severe illness rate of Covid-19 or whether new variants emerge. . The lawsuit against the order comes as the mask mandate had faced more resistance in recent months, as it has remained in place even as other mask orders have been lifted, with 21 GOP-led states pursuing the lawsuit. Biden administration to block mask ordering and airline CEOs. call so that it ends with an open letter.

Further reading

CDC extends travel mask mandate by two weeks amid spread of BA.2 Covid variant (Forbes)

Only half of Americans are comfortable flying right now, poll finds as CDC weighs extending mask mandate (Forbes)

Poll: 6 in 10 Americans not ready for mask mandate to end air travel (Forbes)

Mask mandates are returning in some places and may remain for air travel (Forbes)

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