Twenty-one states filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in an attempt to get the Biden administration to lift the mask mandate for public transportation, which was extended on March 10 despite numerous states and cities removing mask and vaccine requirements.
NBC News reported that the lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida and that it argues, as others have, that the federal requirement for masks on public transportation interferes with state laws banning the mandate and also oversteps the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) authority.
“Florida has led the nation in standing up to misguided federal government policies and fighting back against heavy-handed mandates that have no scientific backing,” Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) said in a press release. “If politicians and celebrities can attend the Super Bowl unmasked, every U.S. citizen should have the right to fly unmasked. It is well past time to get rid of this unnecessary mandate and get back to normal life.”
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody added, “It’s long past time to alleviate some of the pressure on travelers and those working in the travel industry.”
The lawsuit names as defendants the CDC, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration, and the leaders of each agency. The lawsuit aims to not only end the current mandate but ensure a permanent injunction against its enforcement, NBC reported.
The states involved in the lawsuit are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The lawsuit follows moves earlier this month by others trying to get the mask mandate lifted for public transportation. On March 15, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution that would end the mandate, The Daily Wire reported.
Later in the month, 10 pilots from JetBlue, American Airlines, and Southwest filed a similar lawsuit, alleging that the CDC acted “without providing public notice or soliciting comment,” according to Business Insider.
“By mandating masks for all American travelers and employees in the transportation sector, the defendants have acted without statutory authorization or following the rulemaking process required by the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”). This mandate also raises serious constitutional concerns. Because of the FTMM [Federal Transportation Mask Mandate], numerous state, local, and regional transportation and airport authorities are told to enforce a federal mandate that is in direct conflict with the laws and policies of all 50 states that prohibit mask mandates or do not require face coverings,” the pilots alleged.
And just last week, the CEOs of major airlines such as American, Delta, United, and others called on the Biden administration to lift the mandate.
“Now is the time for the Administration to sunset federal transportation travel restrictions — including the international pre-departure testing requirement and the federal mask mandate — that are no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment,” the CEOs wrote in a letter to the White House.