There is no longer an order requiring people to wear face masks on public transportation after a federal judge in Florida ruled on Monday that the Biden administration’s demand was unconstitutional.
Court Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia determined the mandate was unconstitutional because it exceeded CDC authority and violated administrative law.
WATCH: Passengers applaud as Delta flight crew announces masks are optional, effective immediately
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According to a senior Biden administration source, “the agencies are analyzing the decision and assessing potential future steps. There will be no public transportation masking orders in force at this time after today’s court ruling by the CDC. Because of this, TSA will not enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring the use of masks on public transportation and transport hubs. Wearing a face mask while riding public transportation inside is recommended by the CDC.”
As a result of the changes, some airlines and travel authorities promptly announced Monday evening that masks are no longer required. No one knows if the Justice Department will submit an appeal or a temporary restraining order to prevent the ruling from taking effect.
The CDC recently extended the deadline for wearing a mask to May 3rd. Aircraft, railroads, and other public transit all have to comply with the masking rule.
It was a “disappointing decision,” according to White House spokesman Jen Psaki, and the Justice Department will decide whether or not to take legal action.
Even after Mizelle’s verdict, Psaki said that the White House was not “provoking doubt with passengers” by not responding immediately, but noted that the government still advises that airplane passengers continue to wear face masks as a precaution.
In light of this, “We would suggest to everybody sitting out there—we recommend you use masks on the flight, and… as soon as we can get an update from this location, hopefully shortly, we’ll offer that to all of you,” she continued.
Airlines in the United States have announced that face masks are no longer required as a result of the verdict. Alaska Airlines said in a statement that passengers who have been “especially severe” in their objections to the rule over the past two years will stay banned from traveling with the airline “even after the mask policy is withdrawn.”
Though the state-owned and controlled NJ Transit and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority will continue to require masks, Amtrak declared that it will no longer mandate them for passengers or staff.
In the past, a Biden administration official aware with the White House decision told CNN that the purpose of the extension was to collect additional research and comprehend the BA.2 subtype of the coronavirus Universities and the City of Philadelphia have reinstituted indoor mask restrictions due to an increase in Covid-19 infections in the United States.
US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy stated last week that the extension of the transportation mask mandate was in part due to growing Covid-19 infections and travel-related environments.
Dr. Murthy said on SiriusXM’s Doctor Radio that “we bring a lot of people together in a closed setting for a prolonged period of time, and not everyone has the option to not travel.” He cited examples like flying to see a sick mother or traveling for work to keep a job as examples of why people travel. In order to be safe, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has pushed for people to wear face masks in these settings because it’s not an option for them and because they’ll be around each other for a long time.
“Sanitation,” as defined under the 1944 law that grants federal jurisdiction to enact “sanitation” restrictions, was at the heart of a 59-page judgement by a federal district court judge in New York City.
Mizelle came to the conclusion that the term “measures that clean anything” was not included in the statute.
She wrote, “Wearing a mask cleans nothing.” “It may be able to catch a few virus spores. However, neither the person wearing the mask nor the vehicle are’sanitized’ by this method.”
As she put it, the CDC was breaking the law by requiring mask use since “it inhibits the spread of COVID-19 through prevention, but never contends that it actively destroys or removes” it.
“Forcibly taken from their airline seats, denied board at the bus steps, and turned away at the railway station doors,” Mizelle added, comparing the government’s implementation of the mandate to “detention and quarantine, which are not envisioned” under the section of the statute in question.
This means that the Mask Mandate should not be seen as a sanitary measure but rather an exercise of the CDC’s authority to restrict people from traveling because of fears that they may spread a disease (and to detain or partially quarantine those who refuse), as she explained in her article. Conditional release and detention authority, on the other hand, is often restricted to anyone entering the United States from outside the country.
According to her, a provision of the law that allows for detaining a tourist who is discovered contaminated by an inspection does not fulfill the mandate.
The judge ruled that “The Mask Mandate” does not meet the requirements of either of these provisions. All travelers, regardless of their origins or destinations, are covered by this policy. There is no sorting by health status.
The administration also violated the Administrative Procedure Act, according to Mizelle, which lays out the steps that must be taken by the federal government when enforcing specific agency regulations.
It was a mistake for the Biden administration not to seek public input, she wrote. According to her, CDC’s implementation of the policy was “arbitrary and capricious,” in violation of the APA’s restrictions on “arbitrary” and “capricious” government conduct.
In late 2020, President Donald Trump named Mizelle to the federal bench.
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