Judge ends Biden’s mask mandate on planes and trains

Mask mandates for travel rejected by federal judge. Source: Health Freedom Defense Fund.

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  • UPDATE: On Tuesday the Biden Administration announced it will appeal a federal judge's ruling to end the mask mandates on public transportation if the CDC says they are needed.

On Monday, a federal judge rejected President Joe Biden’s mask mandates for trains and planes. Florida-based U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle ruled that the Centers for Disease Control had skipped a crucial responsibility to get public impact on the mandate, and improperly used the “good cause exemption” to skirt public notice requirements.

“Because ‘our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends,'” Mizelle wrote, invoking another case, “the Court declares unlawful and vacates the Mask Mandate.”

The ruling came from a lawsuit filed last summer by two residents of Florida who said requiring the masks on public transportation caused panic attacks. The plaintiffs are not alone; since mask mandates were implemented on airplanes in 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration says 70% of the more than 7,000 incidents of “unruly passengers” on airplanes involved rebellion over the mask requirements.

The Transportation Safety Administration now says that effective immediately the  mask mandates in public transportation will not be enforced, per the judge’s ruling.  White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says the Biden Administration wants people to mask up anyway, despite no mask mandate inside the White House itself. She also indicated that there may be an appeal from Biden to force the issue.

“The Department of Justice would make any determinations about litigation,” she told the White House press corps Monday afternoon.

The Health Freedom Defense Fund, which aided the plaintiffs in the Florida lawsuit, argued that the disruption and damage from the COVID pandemic were not the result of the virus itself, but rather the COVID-related rules imposed by “self-aggrandizing” government workers who have not provided enough data to prove what the rules accomplished.

“The CDC claimed that it did not have to submit its mask order to the usual notice-and-comment procedures for agency rule making because this was a ‘public health emergency,’” said Health Freedom Defense Fund president, Leslie Manookian. “But the ’emergency’ had been declared a year before the mask order was enacted.  An agency doesn’t get to sit on matters for a year and then suddenly claim that an ‘emergency’ requires that it forego notice-and-comment.”

Raleigh Durham International Airport ended the mask mandate immediately after the ruling.

JUST IN: RDU visitors and employees are no longer required to wear a mask at the airport, effective immediately. The TSA will no longer enforce the security directive that requires airport guests and employees to wear masks. pic.twitter.com/au2kAZpYce

— RDU Airport (@RDUAirport) April 18, 2022

Charlotte Douglas International Airport has not issued a similar statement as of Monday evening, instead posting a reference to the ruling on the CLT website.

“Charlotte Douglas International Airport continues to work closely with our federal, state and local partners regarding the latest developments with COVID-19 coronavirus. Your safety and that of our customers and employees is our top priority.”

The ruling follows Friday’s announcement by the CDC that extended public transportation mask mandates for another two weeks, until May 3. In January, the Supreme Court rejected of Biden’s sweeping vaccine-or-test requirement for employees of private companies. However, the court did uphold the vaccine mandate for federal employees.