US travel mask mandate struck down by Donald Trump-appointed judge

The CDC’s mask mandate for travelers was struck down by a federal judge in Florida (Picture: AP)

A US federal judge and appointee of former President Donald Trump has struck down the Biden administration’s mask mandate for traveling on airplanes and public transportation.

US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Florida ruled the mask mandate unlawful on Monday, saying it exceeds the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) statutory authority.

Mizelle, who was nominated by Trump in 2020, zeroed in on the definition of ‘sanitation’ in the law. The government argued for a broader definition of the term to include preventing disease, but Mizelle follows a narrower definition ‘limited to cleaning measures’.

‘Wearing a mask cleans nothing,’ she wrote.  

Mizelle said the mandate’s implementation violates administrative law. In the 59-page ruling, she stated that the only remedy was to completely vacate the rule, as it would be impossible to end the mask mandate for the group of people who filed a lawsuit against it.

‘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,’ she wrote.

The federal transportation mask mandate was scheduled expire on Monday, but the CDC last Wednesday , through May 3. The agency said it would monitor cases of the coronavirus Omicron subvariant BA.2.

‘In order to assess the potential impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and health care system capacity, the CDC order will remain in place at this time,’ the CDC stated at the time.

It is not clear how quickly Mizelle’s ruling will be implemented at airports and public transportation stations across the nation.

The judge’s ruling can be appealed, but it was not immediately clear if the Justice of Department would do so or try to block the decision. The CDC part of the federal government’s Department of Health and Human Services.

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