By Calvin Freiburger
The Biden administration asked the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday to reinstate the federal mask mandate for public transportation, claiming that the requirement fell well within the “zone of reasonableness.”
In April, Florida-based federal Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle declared the mandate for planes and public transportation to be unlawful, arguing that “our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in the pursuit of desirable ends.” In response, the Department of Justice (DOJ) quickly filed its notice to appeal, even though within hours of the ruling several airlines had already scrapped their mask mandates.
Now, the Washington Examiner reports that DOJ has filed its appeal to the Eleventh Circuit, claiming the U.S. Supreme Court has previously rejected arguments similar to Mizelle’s on the grounds that “the role of courts in reviewing arbitrary and capricious challenges is to simply ensure that the agency has acted within a zone of reasonableness,” a standard DOJ claims the mandate “plainly meets.”
The appeal further argues that the mandate was within the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC’s) statutory authority, and that the district court “compounded its errors by entering nationwide relief,” rather than confining the ruling to the case’s specific plaintiffs.
In fact, evidence indicates that masking has been largely ineffective at limiting the spread of COVID-19.
Among that evidence is the CDC’s September 2020 acknowledgement that masks cannot be counted on to keep out COVID when spending 15 minutes or longer within six feet of someone, and a May 2020 study published by CDC’s peer-reviewed journal Emerging Infectious Diseases that “did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility.”
Last May, another study found that, though mandates effectively increased mask use, that usage did not yield the expected benefits. “Mask mandates and use (were) not associated with lower SARS-CoV-2 spread among U.S. states” from March 2020 to March 2021. In fact, the researchers found the results to be a net negative, with masks increasing “dehydration … headaches and sweating and decreas[ing] cognitive precision,” and interfering with communication, as well as impairing social learning among children. The airline mask mandate applied to everyone aged two and over, meaning children still in diapers were expected to mask during long flights.
The Biden administration’s decision to keep fighting for the mask mandate runs counter to determinations made by other Democrats across the country, who perceive forced masking as a political liability.
In recent months, party consultants have privately urged Democrats to distance themselves from mask mandates, advice taken by various governors and mayors across the country, to the point that every state has dropped its general mask mandate for going out in public. In March, seven Senate Democrats joined Republicans in voting to express formal disapproval of the Biden mask mandate for air travel.