The federal mask mandate for air travel and public transportation recently received its biggest rebuke yet. A federal judge in Florida has ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mandate is unlawful.
“The Court concludes that the Mask Mandate exceeds the CDC’s statutory authority and violates the procedures required for agency rulemaking under the [Administrative Procedure Act],” US District Court Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle wrote in her ruling. “Accordingly, the Court vacates the Mandate and remands it to the CDC.”
In the ruling, Mizelle also added: “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.”
Mizelle got the lifetime appointment to the court in 2020 by President Trump when she was 33 years old. The American Bar Association judged her “not qualified” for the position at the time.
BREAKING: A federal judge voided the current mask mandate on airplanes and other public transportation. pic.twitter.com/3bGodH5xRJ
— Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) April 18, 2022
The order comes as a surprise. While it can still be appealed, the mask mandate was most recently extended until May 3 to allow time for officials to judge the danger of the BA.2 Omicron variant. The majority of the country, however, does not require masks and the CDC said in February that most people in America don’t need to mask up indoors because community spread is at a low or medium risk.
Regardless of whether you want people to continue masking up or are ready to fly mask free, there’s no denying that a snap ruling like this is destined to cause confusion. Airline employees are already struggling to deal with people unhappy or unclear on the current rules and regulations around masks.
Mizelle’s order stems from a case dating back to July 2021 in which two Florida residents said masks increased their anxiety and panic attacks, according to BuzzFeed News. The conservative Health Freedom Defense Fund brought the case forward.