“Because our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends, the court declares unlawful and vacates the mask mandate,” she wrote.
The CDC last week extended the federal mask mandate for transportation, including on planes, trains and in airports, until May 3. The order was set to expire on April 18, but the agency said it wanted more time to monitor for potential increases in severe cases of COVID-19 as infections rise.
“In order to assess the potential impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and health care system capacity, the CDC order will remain in place at this time,” the agency said in a statement.
The mandate has long been the target of Republicans who have challenged many of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 measures and also airlines that argue that plane air ventilation systems are adequate for protection.
The transportation mask mandate was one of the few federal coronavirus measures left in place, though the Biden administration can appeal the decision.