A United States District Court judge in Florida vacated the nationwide travel mask mandate on Monday in a ruling that found the mask requirement for travel via mass transit, planes, and trains violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The lengthy ruling explains how the Biden administration “improperly invoked the order and interpretive rule exceptions to notice and comment,” “improperly invoked the good cause exception” to such rulemaking in a manner that “was not harmless error” and how the mandate “is arbitrary and capricious because the CDC failed to adequately explain its reasoning.”
In the ruling, United States District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle — a Trump appointee — lays out a lengthy indictment of the Biden administration’s rulemaking procedure and its conclusion: “the Mask Mandate exceeds the CDC’s statutory authority and violates the APA.”
“The Court recognizes the criticism about nationwide injunctive relief and admittedly shares some of the skepticism about it,” the ruling states before explaining “the weight of authority and judicial practice instructs that vacatur is an appropriate remedy for an APA violation.”
“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. 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.”
As a result of the ruling, the Mandate is remanded to the CDC “for further proceedings consistent with this order” and airlines, railways, rideshares, and other public transportation entities are — for now at least — no longer required to enforce the now-vacated mandate. As Townhall reported in March, executives leading ten American passenger and cargo airlines signed a letter to President Biden saying “it is past time to eliminate COVID-era transportation policies” including the federal mask mandate and international predeparture testing requirement.
“It makes no sense that people are still required to wear masks on airplanes, yet are allowed to congregate in crowded restaurants, schools and at sporting events without masks, despite none of these venues having the protective air filtration system that aircraft do,” the industry leaders emphasized in their letter.