A federal judge in Florida on Monday struck down the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) federal mask mandate for public transportation, granting summary judgment to the Health Freedom Defense Fund Inc., which had challenged the mandate.
U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, who was appointed to the bench by former President Donald Trump, ruled that the mandate “exceeded the CDC’s statutory authority, improperly invoked the good cause exception to notice and comment rulemaking, and failed to adequately explain its decisions.” Therefore, Mizelle wrote, “the Court declares unlawful and vacates the Mask Mandate.”
As a result, the judge remanded the mandate back to the CDC for “further proceedings consistent with this order.”
It’s not clear when the CDC will lift the mandate, but I wouldn’t be surprised if people using public transportation begin taking advantage of the ruling immediately and tossing their masks. I flew out of Orlando the day after Biden announced at his State of the Union address that it was time to end the mask mandate for public transportation. About 1/3 of the travelers I saw that day were not wearing masks in the airport. (If you’re traveling today, let me know in the comments what you’re seeing.)
Since his State of the Union Address, Biden has extended the mandate twice, the most recent being last week, when he ordered the masking to continue until at least May 3.
“So what they’re trying to do is give a little bit more time to assess its potential impact the rise of the cases had on severe disease, including hospitalization and deaths and healthcare system capacity,” press secretary Jen Psaki said at the time. “At the end of that two weeks, they can determine what’s next after that.”
The CDC has not yet commented on the ruling, which will no doubt come as welcome news not only to travelers but also to airport personnel, flight attendants, and other public transit workers who are no doubt sick to death being the enforcers of the mandate