A frequent flyer grounded because he medically can’t tolerate wearing a face mask lodged a new complaint Sunday attacking the legality of the Federal Transportation Mask Mandate ordered by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, advancing the case into final proceedings after a federal judge denied Dec. 18 the government’s motion to dismiss.
Plaintiff Lucas Wall, 44, of Washington, D.C., asserts in the 89-page amended complaint that CDC’s mask mandate is illegal and unconstitutional. He charges CDC and its parent agency, the Department of Health & Human Services, with eight counts of violating the Constitution and federal law by imposing a requirement that all passengers and employees throughout the nation’s entire public-transportation system obstruct their oxygen intake.
Wall also charges the agencies with four constitutional and statutory violations for the International Traveler Testing Requirement, which mandates that all airline passengers flying to the United States – but not travelers entering the country by land or sea – submit a negative COVID-19 test within one day of departure.
“By mandating masks for all American travelers and requiring anyone flying into the United States – even those who are fully vaccinated and/or with natural immunity – to obtain an expensive coronavirus test within one day of departing a foreign nation, Defendants CDC and HHS have acted without statutory authorization or following the rulemaking process required by the Administrative Procedure Act,” according to the amended complaint. “These policies also raise serious constitutional concerns. Be-cause of the FTMM, numerous state, local, and regional transportation agencies … are told to enforce a federal policy that is in direct conflict with state laws such as those here in Florida that prohibit mandatory masking.”
The legal filing also attacks the mask mandates being enforced by the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, which operates Orlando International Airport, and the Central Florida Transportation Authority, which runs the region’s LYNX bus system. U.S. District Judge Paul Byron declined Dec. 18 those state agencies’ motions to dismiss.
Wall contends the airport and LYNX are requiring passengers to cover their faces in direct defiance of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ May 3 executive order prohibiting any governmental entity from mandating face masks and a June 11 Florida Court of Appeal decision finding public mask mandates offend the Florida Constitution’s privacy clause.
Wall has been stranded in Florida since Southwest Airlines and the Transportation Security Administration, enforcing CDC’s order, refused to let him board a flight maskless June 2 at Orlando International Airport. The federal mask mandate is currently in effect until at least March 18, 2022.
He asserts CDC has no legal authority to require passengers wear masks because Congress has never enacted such a law, the agency failed to observe the notice-and-comment procedure required before ordering the FTMM, the mandate applies to intrastate travel and overrides 44 states’ no-mask policies in violation of the 10th Amendment, assigning FTMM enforcement and exemption powers to private companies such as airlines violates the Fifth Amendment, the FTMM interferes with the constitutionally guaranteed freedom to travel interstate and internationally, and the mask policy doesn’t comply with a federal law that protects airline passengers from discrimination.
The federal mask mandate is arbitrary and capricious, Wall argues, because CDC and HHS ignored better options such as requiring COVID-19 test providers to report all positive results to the agencies so people infected could be placed on the “Do Not Board” list, prohibiting them from flying for about two weeks while they capable of transmitting the virus to others.
The amended complaint also criticizes the agencies for: 1) failing to take into account that airplane cabins pose little risk for coronavirus spread; 2) failing to take into account the voluminous scientific and medical research showing masks have proven to be totally ineffective in reducing COVID-19 spread and deaths; 3) failing to consider that masks pose serious health risks to humans forced to wear them; 4) ignoring that mask mandates have created chaos in the skies and on the ground, endangering aviation and transit security; 5) ignoring that the FTMM violates the Food, Drug, & Cosmetic Act by forcing travelers to wear Food & Drug Administration unauthorized or Emergency Use Authorization medical devices without their consent; 6) failing to consider that the FTMM violates the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights by interfering with several fundamental human rights established by treaty; 7) failing to consider that the FTMM violates the Convention on International Civil Aviation by requiring the disabled to submit medical certificates to obtain mask exemptions; and 8) failing to consider that masks damage the environment.
Wall asks Byron to declare both the FTMM and ITTR contrary to statute and unconstitutional, vacate the orders, and permanently enjoin their enforcement worldwide. He also demands an order that CDC and HHS “immediately ensure all federal agencies remove all signs informing passengers of the requirement to wear a mask from all airports, transportation hubs, and other locations worldwide as well as to remove from its website and in all of its publications any references to the” mask mandate and testing requirement.
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