The lawsuit has garnered support from one pilots’ union, which observed that mask mandates have largely disappeared across the country.
A group of twenty-one Republican attorneys general have filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration, demanding that the federal government rescind mask mandates for air travel, trains, ferries, and other public transportation.
According to ABC News, the lawsuit was announced Tuesday by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and state Attorney General Ashley Moody.
Filed in a Tampa, Florida, federal court, the complaint claims that the existing mask mandate exceeds the authority of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
ABC News notes that the masking rule, in its current form, is set to expire on April 18th.
The rule requires “the wearing of masks by people on public transportation conveyances or on the premises of transportation hubs.”
While the Biden administration has extended the rule several times, the C.D.C. has indicated that it may scale back guidance.
Despite the uncertainty, Florida and other conservative-led states insist that the mask mandate must be rescinded immediately—if not by the White House then a federal court.
“It is well past time to get rid of this unnecessary mandate and get back to normal life,” Gov. DeSantis said in a statement.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, who is party to the complaint, also issued a lengthy press release explaining his reasons for joining the lawsuit.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the C.D.C. has repeatedly overstepped its legal authority with impunity,” Marshall said.
“It has done so based upon its flawed reliance on a limited federal statute authorizing traditional quarantine measures directly related to preventing the interstate spread of the disease. Despite courts consistently ruling against the CDC’s ‘unprecedented assertion of power,’ including a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against the CDC in a case brought by the Alabama Association of Realtors in 2021, the CDC remains defiant,” he added.
“After being called out for illegally prohibiting evictions and shutting down the nation’s cruise industry for over a year, the CDC continues to impose a mask mandate for traveling on non-private conveyances, including aircraft, trains, road vehicles, and ships,” Marshall said. “The CDC’s defiance of the law must be challenged.”
Some industry-interest groups have signaled support for the lawsuit.
Cpt. Dennis Tajer, a spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association, said that the group—which represents an estimated 14,000 American Airlines pilots—is ready for the C.D.C.’s restrictive rules to be rolled back.
“This is not a time for politics, this is a time for science and the science so far is showing, as we look across our communities, no matter what state you’re in, or city, we see that masks are not required,” Tajer said in a statement. “We’ve seen the CEOs of the airlines talk about this, we’re not in opposition to that and we want to get back to the business of a more normal travel experience, but no matter what the travel conditions, it must be safe, and we feel it’s safe right now.”