Florida Judge Declares CDC’s Federal Travel Mask Mandate ‘Unlawful’
“Our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends,” writes Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle.
In her decision, Judge Mizelle chided the CDC for taking shortcuts and exceeding its own statutory authority. Under the law—specifically, a federal law known as the Administrative Procedures Act*—the agency is required to submit new policies for outside review and comment. The CDC declined to do this, arguing that any delay in implementing the mandate would cost lives. The agency also maintained that the mandate was not a new rule but, rather, a clarification of previous guidance relating to “sanitation.”
Mizelle was unpersuaded, however, that the Public Health Service Act of 1944—the law the CDC cited as giving the agency the power to take such actions—considered disease prevention to be a form of sanitation.
“Wearing a mask cleans nothing,” wrote Mizelle.
“At most, it traps virus droplets. But it neither ‘sanitizes’ the person wearing the mask nor ‘sanitizes’ the conveyance. Because the CDC required mask wearing as a measure to keep something clean—explaining that it limits the spread of COVID-19 through prevention, but never contending that it actively destroys or removes it—the Mask Mandate falls outside of [applicable law].”
*Florida’s Attorney General, Ashley Moody, her team, and attorneys general from 20 other states filed a lawsuit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. Among many abuses, AG Moody cited blatant violations of the Administrative Procedures Act by the CDC.