Judge removes federal mask mandate

April 18, 2022
Passengers on a plane

The court must hold unlawful and set aside the mask mandate as an agency action that is not in accordance with law.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in her ruling that dissolves the CDC mask mandate.
  • Federal judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of Florida overruled the national mask mandate for airplanes and mass transit. Her decision allows airlines, airports, and mass transit systems to make their own policies regarding mask requirements.
  • Judge Mizelle concluded that the federal mask 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." This decision is from a larger lawsuit brought by Florida (plus 20 other states) challenging the extent of government power.
  • What the airlines say: Following the decision, most major U.S. airlines announced that masks are optional. For example, Delta Air Lines announced that "effective immediately, masks are optional for all airport employees, crew members and customers" in U.S. airports and domestic flights, "as well as on most international flights." The TSA released a statement saying they "will no longer enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs."
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “This is obviously a disappointing decision. The CDC is recommending wearing a mask on public transit.”
  • Something To Consider: Mask mandates — and their overturning — can continue to change. While the CDC mask requirement is no longer in effect at this time, the White House can challenge the ruling.
  • Why It Matters: Judge Mizelle's decision to overturn this mask mandate marks a large shift of pandemic-related practices. The mandate has been one of the White House's longest-lasting pandemic regulations.

Florida judge voids US mask mandate for planes, other travel (Associated Press)

Judge Throws Out Federal Mask Mandate for Public Transportation (Wall Street Journal)

Judge Mizelle's opinion

Background: Mask mandates recently extended for public transportation (SmartHER News)

by Jenna Lee,