"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 judge wrote.
The White House called a federal judge's decision against the CDC mandate for public transportation "disappointing," but said the administration's response was still under review.
"This is obviously a disappointing decision," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday. "The CDC continues recommending wearing a mask in public transit."
"As you know, this just came out this afternoon so right now the Department of Homeland Security, who would be implementing, and the CDC are reviewing the decision," Psaki said. "And of course, the Department of Justice would make any determination about litigation."
Just last week, the agency extended the transportation mask mandate (which had been set to expire originally on April 18) through May 3 — allowing officials to take more time to study the BA.2 subvariant of COVID-19.
"We do have upward trends of infections. CDC is responding to the data, and it's implementing the measure it has the authority to do," said James Hodge, a public health law professor at Arizona State University in an interview with NPR.
Last month, governors from 21 states sued the Biden administration to end the federal public transportation mask mandate, arguing that the continued enforcement "harms the states" and interferes with some local laws.
The filing came days after airline CEOs called on President Biden to drop the mandate.
"President Biden's shortsighted, heavy-handed and unlawful travel policies are frustrating travelers and causing chaos on public transportation," Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who is leading the states' effort, said in a statement. "It's long past time to alleviate some of the pressure on travelers and those working in the travel industry by immediately ending Biden's unlawful public transportation mandates."
The mask-wearing requirement had been initially imposed in early 2021, shortly after Biden took office, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
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