U.S. Federal Judge Declares CDC’s Mask Travel Mandate For Planes and Trains Unlawful


By Jefferey Jaxen

“The Court declares unlawful and vacates the Mask Mandate” reads the latest order from U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle. 

A federal judge has concluded that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel mandate exceeded their statutory authority. The conclusion by the United States District Court Middle District of Florida Tampa Division states that the CDC “improperly invoked the good cause exemption to notice and comment rule making, and failed to adequately explain its decision.”

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. states the order

The challenge was brought by Ana Carolina Daza and Sarah Hope of the Health Freedom Defense Fund, Inc. 

The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) shocked the public and many health experts by extending its travel mask mandate, at CDC’s recommendation, for airplanes, airports, buses, and rail systems. Set to expire on April 18, the extension added two more weeks putting the new expiration date at May 3, 2022. 

The Order invalidates the TSA’s mask mandate country-wide beginning immediately. 

The CDC may seek an appeal or a stay yet, as of now, both the CDC and TSA have no authority to enforce the mandate. 

The Order states that “Since the Mask Mandate regulates an individual’s behavior –wearing a mask–it imposes directly on liberty interests…”

In the run-up to activating the mandate for two extra weeks, the usual experts made the rounds in the U.S. corporate media signaling the mask mandate was ‘on the table.’ 

Once initiated, outlets like The New York Times reported “Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the new White House Covid response coordinator, said in an interview that the additional time will allow the C.D.C. to assess whether BA.2, a subvariant of the coronavirus, is going to become a “ripple or a wave” in the United States. The C.D.C. will use that information to determine whether the mandate should be extended further, he said.”

“If the infection numbers are relatively low, as they are right now, then I think it’s reasonable to remove mask mandates,” he said, emphasizing that it’s a CDC. decision. 

The reasoning for the extension of restrictions was ‘caution’ due to a new subvariant, BA.2, of the Omicron strain – more transmissible but causing less severe disease we are told. 

Meanwhile, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy appeared on CBS News prognosticating, without fully explaining why or how, that “we are going to hear news over the coming weeks and months about new variants, subvariants that crop up.” 

The new District Court decision sets up a new challenge for the Biden Administration and a blow to the already hampered public optics of trust and scientific integrity towards the CDC. It is unlikely that airlines with move unilaterally to implement the mandate within their company structure.

On March 23rd, an open letter released by Airlines for America, asked the Biden administration to “sunset federal transportation travel restrictions.”

The letter was signed by the leaders of 10 U.S. companies, including six of the largest airlines in the country: Alaska Airlines, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest and United.

Read the entire decision here: 

Jefferey Jaxen

Jefferey Jaxen is a health journalist and featured in his weekly segment, ’The Jaxen Report’, on The HighWire. As an investigative journalist, researcher, and compelling writer, Jefferey serves as Lead editor of The HighWire News and Opinion Team.

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