A frequent flyer is challenging the constitutionality of a transportation mask mandate in a lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, several other federal agencies, and President Joe Biden.
Lucas Wall, a Washington, D.C., man who has been living with his mother in Florida, on Monday filed a complaint in a federal district court. He claimed that federal requirements forcing people to wear masks on airplanes and other forms of transportation, as well as coronavirus testing requirements for foreign travelers, are out of the federal government’s jurisdiction.
“They are improper, illegal, and unconstitutional exercises of executive authority,” Wall wrote of the mandates.
Wall also claimed that the mask mandates “ignored countless scientific and medical data showing that face masks are totally ineffective in reducing coronavirus spread.” In his filing, Wall said he wants all federal transportation mask mandates struck down, noting that the CDC has already removed most masking advisories for vaccinated people.
Wall’s case arose last week when he was denied entry into the Orlando International Airport for not wearing a mask. Wall, who has a generalized anxiety disorder, told Transportation Security Administration agents that he could not wear a mask without risking a panic attack.
When the agents told Wall he could not enter without a mask, he produced his vaccination card. Still, he was not allowed to enter the airport.
“I refuse to comply with that,” Wall told the agents. “I can’t wear a mask because of my anxiety. I will not wear a mask. I cannot wear a mask because of my breathing difficulties.”
Wall told the Washington Examiner that the incident was his first attempt to use transportation other than his car since most airlines began requiring passengers to wear masks during flights and at their gates. He was planning to fly from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale.
Unless the CDC and federal transportation authorities drop mask mandates, Wall said that he and other people with disorders that prevent them from wearing masks will be unable to fly.
“I’m not going to be able to travel or be in airports for hours at a time just sitting around and wearing a mask that restricts my breathing so much and makes me uncomfortable,” he said.
Wall’s case comes as governments increasingly relax their stances on masks. Most states, if they ever had wide-reaching mandates, have removed them. Others, such as Florida, have sped up the process of returning to pre-pandemic conditions.
Wall acknowledged that his case may soon be moot, as the federal government continues to drop pandemic restrictions. That’s an outcome he would welcome.
“If it does become moot, hey, that’s great,” he said. “But if not, then at least somebody in the country is challenging it.”