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Florida-led coalition of states sue over transportation mask rule

Twenty-one states are asking a federal court to block enforcement of the Centers for Disease Control's public transportation mask mandate.

TAMPA, Fla. (CN) — A coalition of nearly half the nation’s attorneys general filed a suit Tuesday challenging continued implementation of the Centers for Disease Control’s public transportation mask mandate.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is leading a coalition of 20 other attorneys general who are asking a federal court in Tampa to issue an injunction to halt the CDC'S requirement that people wear masks while riding on public transportation and in hubs like airports. In the 31-page complaint, the AGs argues the mandate, implemented on Feb. 1, 2021, violated the Administrative Procedures Act by not following notice and comment requirements and failing to consider "lesser alternatives."

The mandate was set to expire on March 18, but was extended until April 18.

"The CDC must consider the measures that States and their subdivisions have implemented and specifically consider their adequacy to control the intestate spread of Covid-19," the complaint states. "The mere assertion that mask mandates are the only appropriate measure is inadequate."

The attorneys general maintains the mandate unconstitutionally gives the CDC power to bring civil and criminal penalties for non-compliance, and violates anti-commandeering doctrine by requiring "state-run conveyances and transportation hubs to affirmatively enforces the mandate."

"President Biden’s shortsighted, heavy-handed and unlawful travel policies are frustrating travelers and causing chaos on public transportation," Moody said in a press release. "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 arguments in the suit mirror those Moody made last year in a challenge against the CDC’s No-Sail Order for cruise ships, which was enacted at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. After U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday granted the state’s injunction, the 11th Circuit first blocked the decision but reversed itself a week later.

Joining Moody in the suit are the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina. Utah, Virginia and West Virginia. All are Republicans.

A spokesperson for the CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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