Texas Congresswoman, Texas Sue CDC Over Air Travel Mask Mandate

Bethany Blankley, The Center Square

U.S. Rep. Beth Van Duyne (Republican from Texas), represented by Texas Public Policy Foundation and the State of Texas, are challenging the Constitution of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s requirement that passengers wear masks when traveling on commercial aircraft, transports and in transportation hubs.

According to TPPF’s estimates, it is most likely that the suit will be taken to the U.S. Supreme Court. There, they believe it can prevail. The same statute used to justify the CDC air mask mandate is also the one that was used to justify the TPPF eviction moratorium which was overturned by the Supreme Court last year.

U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas Fort Worth Division filed the lawsuit. All defendants are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and their director Rochelle Walensky and Chief of Staff Sherri Berber, as well the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Secretary Xavier Becerra.

RELATED: Florida Gov. DeSantis Slams Biden’s Federal Mask Mandate For Planes While Touting Florida’s Record Breaking Tourism

Plaintiffs want the court to immediately injunct against the mandate and end it permanently. It’s set to expire in March, but the CDC is expected to extend it again, as it has in the past over the past nearly two years, unless a judge blocks it.

The mask mandate was imposed for as long as it has. Most Americans assume that the federal government controls U.S. airspace and can dictate what policies airlines implement. Robert Henneke, TPPF General Counsel, told The Center Square. But after looking at the statute the Biden administration used to justify the CDC mandate, that’s not the case, Henneke said.

According to him, the Biden administration’s conduct was unconstitutional.

“Congress has never passed a law authorizing the executive branch to issue blanket mask mandates on American citizens,” Henneke said. The U.S. Constitution allows the executive to apply laws that Congress has passed and gives Congress the right to make new laws.

“The executive branch does not have independent policy making authority,” he said.

After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the CDC eviction moratorium imposed on residential landlords, and struck down the private sector COVID-19 vaccine mandate – two cases over which TPPF sued and won – Henneke said they began looking into other mandates that believed were also unconstitutional and/or not justified by federal statute.

“When we took a hard look at the alleged justification from the government, the justification isn’t there,” he told The Center Square. “The statute the Biden administration claimed gave the CDC authority, didn’t give the CDC authority.”

Van Duyn, TPPF’s client, who sits on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, has been pushing back against Biden administration mandates nearly her entire first year in Congress. She’s written letters to the administration, cosigned legislation to end the airline mask mandates, and continues to meet industry leaders in her district, which is home to the second-largest airport by acreage in the U.S. Dallas Fort-Worth International Airport is also the busiest airport in the world, even during the state’s 2020 shutdown.

“With their constantly changing science, fluctuating recommendations and oppressive need to control all aspects of society, the CDC has caused our country untold damage,” Van Duyne said. “It is time for all mandates to be lifted, including those affecting airline passengers.”

RELATED : Virginia has just repealed the school mask mandate that helped to turn the state red

The lawsuit argues that Congress never gave the CDC authority “to make or enforce regulations that amount to a blanket preventative measure against people that may or may not carry infectious disease.” Instead, the CDC exercising such authority violates the separation of powers and constitutes an abuse of power, it alleges.

“The CDC is relying on specific and narrowly tailored provisions in the law to exercise enormously broad powers Congress has not granted the agency,” TPPF senior attorney Matt Miller said. “If someone were to be known to have COVID-19, the agency could then take steps to prevent that person from spreading the disease to others. But the CDC has no authority to make rules that limit the freedom of millions of travelers without any evidence in the hopes it may have some preventative effect.”

According to the complaint, the statutes the CDC is using “require the CDC to act only once it ‘determines that the measures taken by health authorities of any State . . . are inadequate to prevent spread of any communicable diseases in such States. . . to any other State.’” But the CDC, TPPF argues, “made no sufficient findings on this point.”

The statues also require, “’For purposes of carrying out and enforcing such regulations, the [CDC] may provide for such inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, pest extermination, destruction of animals or articles found to be so infected or contaminated as to be sources of dangerous infection to human beings, and other measures, as in his judgment may be necessary.’” But the catchall phrase, “other measures” TPPF argues, “is limited to ‘the kinds of measures like the ones listed in the statute.’ A mask mandate for all people of unknown infection status is not like the measures listed in the statute.”

Henneke says the lawsuit, “in some ways, seeks to restore the correct perspective” for how Americans view and understand the role of government and ordered liberty. Citizens shouldn’t have to justify why they should be exempt from government mandates. It’s the government that should be justifying any attempt to infringe upon personal liberty.”

Ongoing mandates, and fighting them, he added, “is a good lesson on the need for Americans to be more proactive in challenging the premise of government authority, especially in unprecedented ways like has been done during the COVID period.”

This article was Syndicated by permission of The Center Square.