SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — You’ve probably heard about how Florida federal judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle “overturned” the Center for Disease Control’s federal extension on mask mandates for air travel in the United States. United from April 18, 2022. If so, here’s what you need to know about the decision, why it was made by Mizelle, and its potential impact on your next plane trip.
In short, the Biden administration said on April 18 that the TSA would not enforce mask mandates at this time. This change, however, could be temporary, as will be explained in this article.
The first thing to understand about this case and its decision is who the plaintiffs are and why they filed the case in the first place. The main actor among the plaintiffs is the Health Freedom Defense Fund, a political organization that campaigns for freedom of choice regarding medical practices in the United States. The organization was founded in Wyoming, but grew into a national force.
With two Florida citizens as other plaintiffs in the case, the Health Freedom Defense Fund (HFDF) sued President Biden’s administration, but more specifically the CDC itself, making them the primary “defendants.” The complaints in the lawsuit related to the CDC’s extension of the federal mask mandate for air travel from April 18 to May 3. This extension was most likely a new legal target for defenders, as previous lawsuits against plane mask warrants failed.
In short, the HFDF and the other two plaintiffs argue that the CDC exceeded its authority and violated administrative law.
You might also wonder why Judge Mizelle, an otherwise somewhat obscure federal judge in Florida, has so much power over federal administrative policy.
Whenever an element of the federal government is directly sued, plaintiffs must abide by certain laws that govern what lawsuits against the federal government can even be brought, which, if approved, create “a pathway” for the case goes to federal court. like that of Judge Mizelle. This is especially true when the case involves constitutional issues such as those relating to the regulation of interstate commerce and the separation of federal and state powers, as in this case.
Which federal court hears a case depends on a variety of factors, including the location of the subject matter of the lawsuit. In this case, the plaintiffs hoped to travel to and from Florida. It also means that filing the lawsuit in Judge Mizelle’s jurisdiction could have been a strategic choice by HFDF and other connected attorneys.
Interestingly, after her nomination by former President Donald Trump, the American Bar Association deemed Justice Mizelle unsuitable for the position due to her lack of experience. The appointment followed the required processes despite the ABA rating.
Federal judges’ decisions regarding administrative policy generally have only immediate effects on their jurisdiction, that is, the jurisdiction of the Tampa District Court. In this case, because the CDC as a whole is a party to the decision, Judge Mizelle’s ruling has national impact.
To check the power of lower federal judges, every decision they make is appealable to the United States Courts of Appeals, which may then choose to hear it and perhaps issue a new ruling on the affair. If the case is appealed again, it will go to the United States Supreme Court for a similar, but final decision, if selected as worthy of its time. The SCOTUS ruling in favor of Judge Mizelle’s decision would be another possibility for his ruling to have permanent national consequence.
The DOJ, which is tasked with defending federal administrative institutions in cases like these, is extremely likely to appeal the case and seek a temporary stay of Judge Mizelle’s decision almost immediately; they probably have it already drafted and ready to go. The appeal and validity of the suspension will be determined at a preliminary hearing before the entire case is decided, with both decisions being made by the United States Court of Appeals relevant to the case.
The appeals process could essentially result in a temporary pause on any changes in administrative policy and law until the United States Court of Appeals issues a ruling. This process could take a long time and possibly result in a suspension that will last until the original proposed deadline of May 3 anyway.
In summary, while Florida Governor Ron DeSantis may be temporarily rejoicing About Judge Mizelle’s ruling, the legal path to a permanent ban on CDC mask requirements on airplanes still has a long way to go.