CDC's Federal Mask Mandate for Airlines Gets Nuked

Shawn Thew/Pool via AP

The Biden administration took another big blow over COVID-19 on Monday after a Florida judge ruled against the CDC’s federal travel mask mandate, most known for forcing two-year-olds on airplanes to mask up.

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The details here are pretty simple. As has happened in the past, the mask mandate was struck down because the CDC did not go through the proper procedures mandated by the Administrative Procedures Act. That was a favorite reason for liberal judges to strike down regulatory measures taken by Donald Trump, so there’s a bit of poetic justice in seeing a Trump-appointed judge now using the same precedent against the left.

Of course, he’s also right on the merits. The CDC does not have the authority to keep a mask mandate in place, seemingly indefinitely, without following the law in terms of proposing the rule and allowing comment. It’s one thing to use an emergency provision for a few months. It’s another to keep claiming it two years later.

Besides, there is no logical reason to have ever had a mask mandate on airplanes. The science is clear that the filtration in modern airliners is so good that being in the cabin of one is one of the safest places to be. Further, to have a mask mandate apply to children as young as two years old is simply abusive. It’s not backed by any data and there’s no justification for it. Besides, as I’ve shown many times, masks are highly ineffective in all circumstances.

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So what happens now? Given the mandate was only extended for two weeks and is set to expire soon anyway, it’s likely the administration just lets it lapse and moves on. Had this victory not been delivered, though, who knows how long they would have kept re-upping it. This is why it’s important to fight.

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