Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) is hoping to permanently ground the federal aviation mask mandate with a lawsuit filed Wednesday. "The argument is pretty simple," he said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "didn't have the authority to issue these mask mandates for transportation hubs and commercial airlines.... There was no statutory authority from Congress, and certainly there was no authority to say that they were going to potentially impose criminal penalties -- which they do, if you listen to them, on every flight." To make it "some type of criminal felony," he argued, "Congress would have had to pass that."
He filed the lawsuit with Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) on behalf of frequent flier Congresswoman Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas). "It was not authorized by Congress, and the CDC did not put the mandate up for notice and comment, which is ordinarily required for regulations like this," said the AG's office. The bottom line is this: the CDC exceeded their authority in mandating all airline passengers don masks.
The Biden administration's CDC has flown off course before. In September of last year, the Supreme Court struck down the CDC's eviction moratorium, arguing, "It would be one thing if Congress had specifically authorized the action that the CDC has taken. But that has not happened." The CDC's "reliance on a decades-old statute... strains credulity," the Court said. In other words, even the Supreme Court couldn't believe they did what they did.
Now, if you're like me, you're probably wondering what business "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention" has regulating housing or air travel in the first place. Good question. Unless freedom has now become a communicable disease, you're more likely to find an infected bat in Wuhan than a reasonable explanation.
But the emperor's new birthday suit hasn't deterred the CDC from taping an ineffective cloth mask to his face. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, since the beginning of 2021, 70 percent (about 4,500) of complaints regarding unruly airline passengers involved the passengers not wearing masks. Those passengers are getting thrown off flights and put on no-fly lists simply for resenting unelected bureaucrats trampling on their freedoms without the slightest shade of legality. Not only are these American citizens denied the presumption of innocence, but they are being treated the same as terrorists without even being charged with violating any federal law.
The silliest part of this charade is that airlines have never been a major spreader for COVID, despite the close quarters. The CDC itself defines "close contact" as "a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more" within six feet. But most commercial aircraft replace the cabin air every 2 to 3 minutes. That air circulation greatly reduces the risk of the infection taking off.
With TPPF filing for a preliminary injunction, Paxton hoped for "a very quick resolution," although "it depends on the court... how long it takes the judge to rule." For their part, the CDC is delaying any rule change, although it may try to pull out of a nosedive by letting the mandate expire. But Paxton said, "if they drop out of the lawsuit knowing they're going to lose... they leave themselves in place to do this in the future. We can't have that." He added, "we've got to get some type of ruling from a court that creates precedent." Good for the Texas AG to hold their feet to the fire.