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Federal judge tosses CDC's public transport mask mandate, rules agency overstepped

A federal judge in Florida struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's national mask mandate for planes and public transportation on Monday, claiming the rule exceeds the authority of health officials, The Associated Press reports.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle's ruling also said the CDC failed to properly justify its decision and did not follow proper rulemaking, AP writes.

"The court concludes that the mask mandate exceeds the CDC's statutory authority and violates the procedures required for agency rulemaking under the APA," the ruling reads. "Accordingly, the court vacates the mandate and remands it to the CDC."

The CDC recently extended the mask mandate for public transport until May 3 to allow more time to investigate the Omicron subvariant known as BA.2. The rule was previously set to expire on April 18.

According to Grid News' Chris Geidner, Mizelle was the youngest federal judge appointed by former President Donald Trump, and a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. While a judicial nominee, Mizelle was also apparently rated "not qualified" by the American Bar Association.

The judge's decision, per legal analyst Joyce White Vance, will have a "nationwide effect" — at least until it is potentially reversed. Notably, an appeal is likely, per Buzzfeed News.