'Truly preposterous': Trump-appointed federal judge axes CDC's travel mask mandate
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's mask mandate for domestic travelers was struck down on Monday by a federal jurist who was appointed by former President Donald Trump. The decision is the latest in a string of blows to President Joe Biden's efforts to curb transmission of the coronavirus.
The CDC last week extended the rule until May 3rd.
Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida wrote in a 59-page ruling that the CDC exceeded its authority in requiring passengers on airlines and any other "conveyance" of public transportation to wear masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Mizelle – whom the American Bar Associated dinged as "not qualified" after she was installed by Trump at the age of 33 – said that passengers who refused to comply and were "forcibly removed from their airplane seats, denied board at the bus steps, and turned away at the train station doors" had their rights against "detention and quarantine" violated.
"The Mask Mandate is best understood not as sanitation, but as an exercise of the CDC's power to conditionally release individuals to travel despite concerns that they may spread a communicable disease (and to detain or partially quarantine those who refuse). But the power to conditionally release and detain is ordinarily limited to individuals entering the United States from a foreign country," she proclaimed.
“Wearing a mask cleans nothing,” Mizelle opined, even as cases are once again rising in pockets throughout the country, such as in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which has re-instituted a mask mandate. The virus has also been spreading in the nation's capital, infecting White House officials and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California).
Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, blasted Mizelle's order in a Monday afternoon tweet.
"This is both a big deal and a truly preposterous (nationwide) injunction. The CDC’s statutory authority is specifically directed at preventing the spread of communicable diseases across state lines," he wrote. "Where else is such spread more likely to occur than transport hubs like airports?"
This is both a big deal and a truly preposterous (nationwide) injunction. The CDC\u2019s statutory authority is specifically directed at preventing the spread of communicable diseases across state lines. Where else is such spread more likely to occur than transport hubs like airports?https://twitter.com/davidmackau/status/1516098306916683781\u00a0\u2026— Steve Vladeck (@Steve Vladeck) 1650302406
Although Mizelle's order can and certainly will be appealed, widespread confusion is likely while that process gets underway.
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