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AG Derek Schmidt files suit seeking end to federal mask mandate for public transportation

Release Date: Mar 29, 2022

TOPEKA – (March 29, 2022) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has filed a federal lawsuit against the Biden administration seeking to end the continued enforcement of the mask mandate on public transportation, noting that even states with stringent COVID-19 policies are lifting their indoor mask mandates.

Schmidt today joined 20 other states in filing the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District Florida. The attorneys general argue that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mask mandate exceeds the agency’s authority to mandate health regulations, including requirements for individuals who show no sign of infection. The mandate covers individuals using public transportation, including airports, buses and railways, and requires them to wear a face covering to prevent the spread of disease.

“As mandates around the country are being lifted, continuing this federal transportation mask mandate makes no sense,” Schmidt said. “I had hoped the Biden administration would let it expire, but the administration’s recent decisions to extend it for yet another month has left us little choice but to turn to the courts for relief.”

The complaint highlights that the CDC rule is arbitrary and capricious, required notice and comment that was not given before the mandate was implemented, and did not consider actions that states had already taken to control the spread of COVID-19. The federal mandate also requires state-run conveyances and transportation hubs to affirmatively enforce the rule, in violation of the anti-commandeering doctrine.

Schmidt has challenged numerous federal mandates since last fall when the Biden administration announced several vaccine and mask mandates as part of its one-size-fits-all approach to combating COVID-19. That included filing a lawsuit to block Biden’s mandate that Head Start workers and volunteers be vaccinated and children and toddlers wear masks. A federal judge in Louisiana has issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting implementation of the vaccine and mask mandate in Kansas Head Start programs. The case is still pending in the federal district court.

Schmidt has brought legal challenges to three other Biden mandates. The OSHA mandate for private employers was blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court, the federal contractor mandate that affects defense contractors and research universities is blocked by a federal appeals court, and the challenge to the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers remains in litigation in the federal courts after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to temporarily block its implementation.

A copy of the public transportation mandate lawsuit can be found at https://bit.ly/3DjK6sB.

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