Attorney General Morrisey Files Lawsuit Challenging Transportation Mask Mandate

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey today joined a multistate lawsuit challenging the federal government’s mask mandate on airplanes and other public transportation.

“I oppose such broad overreaching mandates on airplanes and in other public transportation,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “We must fight back against efforts to deprive citizens of their freedoms.”

According to the lawsuit, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic invoked numerous actions, which included shutting down the nation’s cruise industry, prohibiting evictions, and mandating mask wearing for travelers. The Supreme Court has already invalidated the eviction moratorium, while another federal court enjoined the cruise industry restrictions.

The mask mandate only allows for removing one’s mask for brief periods, such as while eating or drinking.

Violation of the mandate carries criminal penalties, although the CDC has announced that it “does not intend to rely primarily on these criminal penalties” because it “anticipates widespread voluntary compliance.”

The CDC, however, still has not allowed for public comment on the mandate more than 13 months after its issuance – and has not updated its mask mandate since Feb. 1, 2021.

As the complaint explains, this mandate is unlawful because, among other things, it exceeds CDC’s statutory authority, amounts to “arbitrary and capricious” agency action, and violates laws requiring notice and comment on rules like this one.

The travel mask mandate was imposed days after President Biden took office. It has been extended several times. President Trump declined to require masks on public transportation although airline companies began requiring masks in mid-2020.

The lawsuit, among other things, seeks to rule the mandate unlawful and set it aside.

Attorney General Morrisey joined with his counterparts in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah.


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