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A travel blogger who was the first person in the country to sue to stop the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s Federal Transportation Mask Mandate and International Traveler Testing Requirement lodged an appeal today of an Orlando federal judge’s April 29 judgment declaring both rules legal.

Today’s appeal tees up for review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit conflicting decisions by judges in Orlando and Tampa regarding the bounds of CDC’s legal authority to issue worldwide COVID-19 and other public-health mandates. District Judge Kathryn Mizelle of Tampa vacated the mask mandate April 18, ruling CDC issued it without congressional authority, did not offer notice and a chance for the public to comment, and did not reasonably explain its decisionmaking (known in the law as an “arbitrary and capricious” rule). But 11 days later, District Judge Paul Byron of Orlando found in Wall’s case that CDC does have statutory authority to issue such broad-sweeping mandates and it had “good cause” to forego notice and comment because of the pandemic. Both judges sit in the Middle District of Florida.

The Department of Justice, at the behest of CDC, filed an appeal of Mizelle’s decision with the 11th Circuit on April 20. That case was brought by the Health Freedom Defense Fund. Byron was appointed by President Barack Obama; Mizelle was tapped for the bench by President Donald Trump.

“Judge Mizelle got it right. Judge Byron got it wrong. It’s that simple,” said appellant Lucas Wall of Washington, D.C., who founded last August Americans Against Mask Mandates, a coalition of more than 650 passengers and airline employees opposed to the FTMM, 41 of whom are prosecuting 14 lawsuits in numerous federal courts attacking the mandate and airlines’ discriminatory policies of refusing mask exemptions to the disabled. “We can’t have 180-degree opposite conclusions reached by federal judges in courthouses only 85 miles apart. The 11th Circuit must reconcile these polar judgments and affirm Judge Mizelle’s decision that CDC lacks the power to force all transportation passengers and workers nationwide to obstruct our oxygen intake, not to mention detaining American citizens abroad if they don’t present a negative virus test when checking in for a flight home to the United States.”

Wall said he filed the appeal despite the FTMM currently being unenforceable (due to Mizelle’s decision) because CDC continues urging forced masking in the transportation system and, if permitted, would ask the Transportation Security Administration to continue indefinitely extending its health directives enforcing the mask mandate.

“CDC made it clear with a statement yesterday, when the fifth extension of TSA’s health directives were scheduled to expire, that it still desperately wants to muzzle all travelers and employees nationwide, even though all 50 states have long ago acknowledged the ineffectiveness of face coverings by abolishing their mask mandates,” Wall said. “CDC also claims extraordinary power to require masks on planes and ships far outside U.S. airspace and territorial waters. And if you can’t present a negative COVID-19 test taken the day before you try to fly home to America, CDC detains you in a foreign nation. Congress has never given one government agency this staggering amount of power.”

CDC said yesterday that it “recommends that everyone aged 2 and older – including passengers and workers – properly wear a well-fitting mask or respirator over the nose and mouth in indoor areas of public transportation (such as airplanes, trains, etc.) and transportation hubs (such as airports, stations, etc.). When people properly wear a well-fitting mask or respirator, they protect themselves and those around them, and help keep travel and public transportation safer for everyone.”

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director, added that “it is important for all of us to protect not only ourselves, but also to be considerate of others at increased risk for severe COVID-19 and those who are not yet able to be vaccinated. Wearing a mask in indoor public transportation settings will provide protection for the individual and the community.”

Wall calls Walensky’s statement “thumbing her nose at the Judicial Branch and again repeating her false claims about the efficacy of face masks, which have been thoroughly debunked by hundreds of scientific and medical studies across the globe.” Wall and dozens of others are planning a separate lawsuit against Walensky personally for her role in ordering the illegal mask mandate.

He has been stranded at his mother’s in Florida since June 2021. He plans to return home to Washington in early June now that the mask mandate was vacated by Mizelle after first flying to New Mexico next week to see his father.

Author: Press Release


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