21 states file lawsuit against federal mask mandate on transportation

More than 20 states filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the federal mask mandate on transportation, which has been extended until April 18, saying it violated the Constitution and violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

The 21 states claim that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had not allowed for public comment for more than a year since the federal transportation mask mandate was first issued.

They also claimed that they were negatively impacted by the mask mandate because it required states to “expend resources to enforce the mandate” and harmed states’ “sovereign interests” because many states “have laws or policies prohibiting or discouraging mask requirements in contexts where the mask mandate applies,” according to court filings.

While speaking during a press conference on Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), whose state is leading the multi-state lawsuit, said the federal requirement was not “grounded in any science.”

“And it’s not something that’s grounded in any science because if you have somebody sitting in the window seat, and they’re nibbling on peanuts for two and a half hours, they can have their masks down. You have the person in the middle seat that is not eating — if they just wanted to read a magazine without the mask, then somehow that would be a big problem, and it’s turned the airlines into having to police this,” DeSantis said. 

“It’s created a lot of unruly passenger situations because it’s so frustrating for people.”

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) alleged in a statement that the mask mandate was depriving residents of their freedoms. 

“I oppose such broad overreaching mandates on airplanes and in other public transportation,” Morrisey said. “We must fight back against efforts to deprive citizens of their freedoms.”

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 CDC told The Hill they did not comment on ongoing litigation. The Transportation Security Administration also said they would not comment on pending litigation.

The development comes as U.S. airlines made a similar push earlier this month to get rid of the federal mask mandate on transportation such as trains and airlines, which they said has required their employees to become enforcers of the mandate. 

“This is not a function they are trained to perform and subjects them to daily challenges by frustrated customers. This in turn takes a toll on their own well-being,” airline executives wrote.

The Hill has reached out to the White House, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services for comment.

— Updated at 4:52 p.m.

Tags Florida mask mandate Ron DeSantis Ron DeSantis

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