Just one day after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law the Parental Rights in Education bill, the Republican is now suing the federal government for its never-ending mask mandate for public transportation and airlines.
More than two years since Covid-19 reached our shores, the Biden administration is still ordering that Americans wear face coverings on planes and to commute. After the Trump administration opted not to require masks on public transport, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order in late January 2021, which prompted one from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in February 2021 shortly after Biden’s inauguration. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody says these federal agencies “never had the power to issue” these mandates.
“President Biden’s shortsighted, heavy-handed, and unlawful travel policies are frustrating travelers and causing chaos on public transportation,” Moody said, adding in a Tuesday press conference that “almost 75 percent of these unruly, sometimes violent, incidents are based on this unlawful mask mandate. I know that if you travel at all, everywhere you go, people are frustrated and taking it out on the employees that are charged with enforcing this rule, that they have to wear a mask when this is an unfounded rule and order.”
TSA’s rule was supposed to expire in May of last year but was instead extended to September, then January of 2022, then March, and now April. DeSantis and a horde of other states are trying to change that by arguing that the federal mask mandate goes beyond the CDC’s authority and violates state laws that ban forced masking.
Their complaint, which is filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, looks to stop the public transportation mandates and obtain a permanent injunction against their enforcement.
“It’s not something that’s grounded in any science,” DeSantis said during the press conference, showing that just like you don’t have to be a biologist to know what a woman is, you don’t have to be a virologist to understand basic sense. “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 mask down. You have the person in the middle seat that is not eating, and if they just want to read a magazine without their mask, then somehow that would be a big problem.”
It isn’t just the Florida Republican going after the Biden administration solo, however; his state is joined by 20 others in trying to rein in the federal government’s massive expansion of their own power under the guise of safety. Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia are all plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which goes after the TSA, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, among others.
“Florida has led the nation in standing up to misguided federal government policies and fighting back against heavy-handed mandates that have no scientific backing,” DeSantis said. “If politicians and celebrities can attend the Super Bowl unmasked, every U.S. citizen should have the right to fly unmasked. It is well past time to get rid of this unnecessary mandate and get back to normal life.”