Florida judge strikes down Biden's mask mandate for travel
US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle said the mandate was unconstitutional because it exceeded the statutory authority of the CDC and was carried out in violation of administrative law.
A Florida judge has overturned the Covid-19 mandate requiring US citizens to wear masks on planes and other forms of public transportation, claiming that President Joe Biden's administration overstepped its authority and failed to adequately justify its decision.
Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida issued her decision just five days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended its transportation mask mandate until at least May 3. She revoked the original mask order and returned it to the CDC for "further proceedings."
“The court concludes that the mask mandate exceeds the CDC’s statutory authority and violates the procedures required for agency rulemaking . . .,” the judge stressed in her ruling.
“Accordingly, the court vacates the mandate and remands it to the CDC,” she added.
They just announced on my flight the mask mandate for flights is over! pic.twitter.com/iRnkFly2w9— Rennie Cook (@renniecook) April 18, 2022
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki commented on the Judge’s decision by describing it as “disappointing.”
In an executive order signed just one day after taking office in January 2021, Biden called for mandatory mask wear. According to Mizelle, the CDC published its transportation mask mandate two weeks later, without allowing for public comment as is normally required and without adequately explaining its reasoning.
Executives in the airline industry have called for the mask order to be repealed, at least in part because it has contributed to an increase in violent passenger behavior.
On his account, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian told the Washington Post on Monday: "I believe that lifting the mask mandate will be one step toward reestablishing civility and normal behavioral patterns onboard the aircraft as well as in the airports."
So far this year, the Federal Aviation Administration has received reports of over 1,100 incidents involving unruly airline passengers, with mask-wearing rules accounting for 65 percent of those incidents.
Last year, more than 1,000 cases were serious enough to warrant an FAA investigation, compared to just 146 in 2019.
Many of last year's incidents were so serious that the FAA imposed fines in excess of $10,000, including one in which a passenger was ordered to pay more than $26,000 after allegedly punching a flight attendant.
Most state and local governments in the US have already lifted their bans on wearing masks in public places. The CDC stated that the transportation mask mandate was extended last week to allow the agency time to assess the impact of a recent increase in Covid-19 infections on hospitalizations.