Texas argues public transport mask mandate exceeds CDC authority

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) and the Texas Public Policy Foundation on Feb. 16, 2022, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas aiming to block enforcement of the Biden administration’s federal mask mandate for public transport. The mandate, issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is in place through March 2022, according to CNN, and requires individuals to wear masks in transportation hubs and on public transportation (e.g., airplanes, buses, trains, boats, and taxis).

The lawsuit argues that the mask mandate is unconstitutional because the CDC does not have the authority to issue the order. The plaintiffs claim in part that CDC’s statutory authority does not allow the agency to enforce preventative measures against individuals of unknown infection status. The plaintiffs also claim that the mandate violates the nondelegation doctrine by transferring lawmaking power to the executive branch. Congress, according to the plaintiffs, unconstitutionally delegated lawmaking power to CDC when it failed to enact appropriate statutory limits to prevent the agency from making new laws, such as the mask mandate.

The CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services had not issued a response to the lawsuit as of Feb. 24, 2022.