Trump-appointed judge blocks airline mask mandate

Last week, the Biden administration extended the mask mandate for travelers on federal transportation despite the pleas of the CEOs of 10 major airlines, but a federal judge on Monday voided the requirement, which applies to airplanes and trains.

U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, who was appointed by former President Trump, ruled in federal court in Florida that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention failed to justify its decision to extend the mandate 15 days to May 3 and did not go through the required notice and comment period for federal rulemaking. The judge found that the mandate, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, was outside the scope of the CDC’s authority, calling it “arbitrary” and “capricious.”

Mizelle, in her 59-page ruling, concluded the rule must be vacated nationwide, because “a limited remedy would be no remedy at all.”

“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 case brought by the nonprofit Health Freedom Defense Fund and frequent airline travelers Ana Daza and Sarah Pope against the Biden administration.

The basis for the mandate was the Public Health Services Act of 1944, which allows the CDC “to make and enforce such regulations” deemed “necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the States.” “Sanitation” is one of the methods to achieve that aim, according to the law, and the administration argued the mask mandate falls under “sanitation.”

But the judge contended that the context of the statute indicates that “sanitation” refers to “measures that clean something, not ones that keep something clean.”

“Wearing a mask cleans nothing,” she wrote, arguing further that the sanitation power applies to property rather than people.

Mizelle, 35, clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas. She was appointed by Trump and confirmed by the Senate just before the end of the lame duck session in 2020.

On Twitter, many flyers wondered if they would immediately be allowed to get rid of their masks. The general consensus is that airlines still have a right to enforce their own mask rules, and passengers must obey the orders of flight attendants and other airline personnel or risk being barred from a flight.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tweeted: “We are on the way to the airport! Does the judges ruling mean we dont have to wear masks?”

At the White House, Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy asked Biden press secretary Jen Psaki asked why the administration continues to insist on an airline mask mandate while no longer requiring masks for reporters in the briefing room.

“Well, Peter, I’m not a doctor, you’re not a doctor,” she replied.

Psaki said Washington is in a “green” zone regarding COVID-19 transmission while the CDC has determined there have been “increasing cases on airplanes.”

However, the CDC didn’t claim there was any increase in cases on airplanes when it made the decision, claiming instead that there had been an increase in the seven-day moving average of COVID cases.

In any case, all 50 states now have lifted their mask mandates, and, meanwhile, the “risk of contracting coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) during air travel is lower than from an office building, classroom, supermarket, or commuter train,” affirms an article in JAMA Network, a publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Modern airplanes maintain clean air by circulating a mix of fresh air and recycled air through HEPA filters, the same type of filters used in hospital operating rooms,” the article explained.

Many foreign carriers have ditched their mask rules, including British Airways, SAS, KLM and Virgin Atlantic.

On Twitter, a state lawmaker in Massachusetts demonstrated her lack of knowledge of the nation’s three branches of government and its system of checks and balances in her comment on the ruling, writing that people should be “really, really concerned that the Courts are effectively taking away power from the federal government.”

‘No longer aligned with the realities’
In March, the CEOs of 10 U.S. passenger and cargo airlines asked President Biden in a letter to lift the onboard mask mandate and predeparture testing rules. The chiefs of Alaska, American, Atlas, Delta, FedEx Express, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, United, UPS Airlines and the Airlines for America trade association signed the letter.

“Now is the time for the Administration to sunset federal transportation travel restrictions – including the international predeparture testing requirement and the federal mask mandate – that are no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment,” the CEOs wrote.

Last December, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in a Senate hearing that mask mandates for air travel should be lifted, arguing the air in an airliner cabin is safer than any other indoor environment.

They pointed out that the HEPA air filtering systems capture nearly 100% of airborne contamination, exchanging cabin air without outside air every two or three minutes.

Parker said an airliner “is the safest place you can be indoors … far safer than a theater, safer actually than an intensive care unit.”

Kelly asserted “the case is very strong that masks don’t add very much, if anything, in the air cabin environment.”

“It is very safe and very high quality compared to any other indoor setting,” the Southwest CEO said.

See the airline CEOs’ remarks:

At the time, Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants, insisted the mandate should remain in place, arguing it makes passengers feel safer. And she argued that some older planes don’t have HEPA filters.

“I hope we are going to stay on the same messages and follow the medical experts, and do what’s necessary to keep everybody safe,” she said.

However, studies by medical experts along with data accumulated from two years of mask mandates indicate they are not effective in curbing the spread of the virus. A study from Bangladesh touted by advocates of mask mandates was shown to have fundamental design flaws. And after researchers released more of their data, it was discovered there actually were minuscule infection differences between the treatment and control groups randomized across 600 villages.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Last year, America’s doctors, nurses and paramedics were celebrated as frontline heroes battling a fearsome new pandemic. Today, under Joe Biden, tens of thousands of these same heroes are denounced as rebels, conspiracy theorists, extremists and potential terrorists. Along with massive numbers of police, firemen, Border Patrol agents, Navy SEALs, pilots, air-traffic controllers, and countless other truly essential Americans, they’re all considered so dangerous as to merit termination, their professional and personal lives turned upside down due to their decision not to be injected with the experimental COVID vaccines. Biden’s tyrannical mandate threatens to cripple American society – from law enforcement to airlines to commercial supply chains to hospitals. It’s already happening. But the good news is that huge numbers of “yesterday’s heroes” are now fighting back – bravely and boldly. The whole epic showdown is laid out as never before in the sensational October issue of WND’s monthly Whistleblower magazine, titled “THE GREAT AMERICAN REBELLION: ‘We will not comply!’ COVID-19 power grab ignites bold new era of national defiance.”

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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