Texas sues Biden administration over transportation mask mandate

The state of Texas filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration on Wednesday seeking to block the federal mask mandate for airplanes, trains, buses and associated facilities.

The lawsuit argues that the transportation mask mandate, which has existed for almost a year, was not issued properly. The plaintiffs said the mandate did not go through a notice or comment period.

The suit also questions the effectiveness of the mandate in stopping the spread of COVID-19, writing that the policy “provides no findings that show masks have limited the interstate spread of COVID-19 through conveyances and transportation hubs.”

Additionally, the plaintiffs argue that federal authorities did not have the authority to enact such a measure. They specifically said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not have the power to make or enforce “blanket preventative measures against people that may or may not carry infectious disease.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) and the Texas Public Policy Foundation filed the lawsuit in Fort Worth on behalf of Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas). The suit says Duyne “frequently travels via commercial airlines subject to the Order,” and would opt against wearing a mask at the airport or on flights if given the choice.

She is also one of a number of Republican lawmakers that have been fined for not wearing a mask on the House floor.

Paxton is seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction to halt enforcement of the mask mandate.

The suit names CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, CDC chief of staff Sherri Berger and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra as defendants.

Paxton said in a statement that Biden “cannot continue governing through executive edicts.”

“Now is the time to strike down his administration’s air-travel mask mandate,” he added

President Biden signed an executive order last January mandating that masks be worn on planes, trains and in airports.

The Texas lawsuit came nearly a month after the Supreme Court rejected a request to block the transportation mask requirement. The justices denied the emergency application, which a father filed on behalf of himself and his four-year-old autistic son. The request said both were medically unable to wear a mask for extended periods of time.

The plaintiff’s, in Wednesday’s lawsuit, also wrote that the federal government’s mask mandate is unconstitutional because it goes against an executive order signed by Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) that prohibits mask mandates in the Lone Star State.

“The State, through the executive orders of its Governor, has determined that Texans can choose for themselves whether to wear masks and that Texas businesses cannot be required by State or local governmental entities to impose masking requirements,” the lawsuit reads.

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