Twenty-one states sue Biden administration over public transport mask mandate

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R), joined by 20 Republican and Democratic attorneys general, filed a lawsuit on March 29, 2022, in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida that aims to end 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 April 18, 2022, and requires individuals to wear masks in transportation hubs and on public transportation. Eighteen Republican-led states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia) and three states led by Democratic governors (Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana) joined in the lawsuit. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) filed a similar lawsuit on Feb. 16, 2022, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.   

The states argue that the federal mask mandate exceeds the CDC’s statutory authority and harms the states’ sovereign interests. The plaintiffs contend that the law does not permit the CDC to issue economy-wide mandates for noninfected individuals and violates the nondelegation doctrine by granting the CDC lawmaking power. The plaintiffs also claim that the mandate harms states’ sovereign interests by enforcing agency action that contradicts state law in some areas. 

Moody argued, “President Biden’s shortsighted, heavy-handed and unlawful travel policies are frustrating travelers and causing chaos on public transportation. It’s long past time to alleviate some of the pressure on travelers and those working in the travel industry by immediately ending Biden’s unlawful public transportation mandates.”

The CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services had not issued a response to the lawsuit as of April 4, 2022.

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