Federal Judge Strikes Down Transportation Mask Mandate

A federal judge struck down the federal mask mandate for airplanes and mass transit.


A Florida-based federal judge struck down the federal mask mandate for airplanes and other forms of mass transit including buses and subways.

  • U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, a Trump appointee, ruled the mask mandate did not follow proper rulemaking and an overreach by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Judge Mizelle faulted the CDC for not adequately explaining its decision last week to extend the mandate for an additional 15 days.
  • The judge wrote, “because ‘our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends’ the Court declares unlawful and vacates the Mask Mandate.”
  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced it would stop enforcing the mask mandate.
  • The four largest airlines – United, American, Delta and Southwest – all dropped their mask mandates within hours of the ruling.
  • Also on Monday, the CDC dropped its “Do Not Travel” recommendations for approximately 90 international destinations.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • Politico observed the ruling created confusion among passengers and airline employees about whether the ruling came into force with immediate effect. United Airlines announced it would keep the mask mandate in place “despite the decision by a federal judge.”
  • The New York Times covered Philadelphia, the first major city to reinstate an indoor mask mandate. The new mandate took effect Monday and applies to all public spaces. The likely Democratic nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro, called it “counterproductive.”
  • CNN quoted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who said, “Great to see a federal judge in Florida follow the law and reject the Biden transportation mask mandate.”



  • The Washington Examiner noted that the CDC’s justification for the mandate – “that wearing a mask will limit transmission of the coronavirus and thus limit the number of several cases requiring hospitalization” – is “not sufficient to establish good cause” for a federal mandate by itself.
  • Fox News reported several colleges are reinstating mask mandates, including three DC/Maryland-area universities (Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, and American) and Columbia University.
  • National Review reminded readers several major airline CEOs called on the Biden administration to lift the transportation mask mandate back in March.

Author’s Take

For all intents and purposes the pandemic is over for most of America. The symbols of emergency health measures like mask mandates are nearly all gone – except transportation. If a local area is experiencing a surge in cases and wants to enact a mask mandate, they should be able to. Two years into the pandemic and one year after widespread vaccinations began, it makes no sense to mandate masks on Boise public transportation if there is a surge in cases in Birmingham.

Americans have lived with COVID-19 since March 2020. The CDC itself estimated nearly 95 percent(!!!) of Americans have COVID-19 antibodies. At this point Americans are more than capable of making their own decisions about what’s best for their health. Airlines should be able to set their own policies. The federal transportation mandate has far outlived its usefulness.

Evidently the Biden Administration thinks so too. The TSA’s quick announcement just hours after the ruling that they would no longer enforce the mandate makes it seem like the administration is perfectly fine with this outcome – so long as they can hide behind a judge’s robes and not actually have to make the decision. It’s unclear whether the administration’s fecklessness can be attributed to fear of their college-educated, pro-masking base, the public health bureaucracy, or both.

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© Dominic Moore, 2022