Timing of judge’s mask ruling for air travel suspicious

David Pakman
Liberal Opinion

David Pakman

Host of The David Pakman Show
Archive |

Airplane passengers are no longer required to wear masks on planes and other forms of transit after a judge knocked down a mandate requiring it. Several airlines and other transportation providers quickly followed her lead, and passengers applauded the ruling. But Straight Arrow News contributor David Pakman questions the timing of U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle’s decision as well as her motive.

The reasoning she gave for why the mandate had to go is that the CDC’s authority to enforce rules for sanitation, she says, only apply to the sanitation of the airplane. And she wrote, correctly under this understanding, if the CDC is allowed to weigh in on how to sanitize planes, a mask doesn’t in a literal sense, sanitize the plane. And so, there were a couple more provisions, but this was a big piece of it. The CDC overstepped its authority. 

What is fascinating to me about that justification is that that justification would’ve been valid at any time during the pandemic. 

And yet the judge issued the ruling within just a couple of weeks of when the mask mandate was expected to end anyway. Originally it was Apr. 18 and extended to May 3.

So some part of me wonders whether this is a judge who says, “I wouldn’t do this in the middle of the pandemic when there’s no end in sight for the masking. Now that we see when it would probably end anyway, I’m going to score some political points, mostly with conservatives.” 

Although many people, myself included, are tired of masks, but we want to understand whether they’re helping us in some way before we remove them.

She might have said, “This is a really great opportunity to get my name in the news and score some political points.”

I think that that is something that is quite plausible in this particular case. 

A 35 year-old Trump appointed judge has said the airplane federal mask mandates must go. They are an example of the CDC overstepping its authority. And quite literally, within moments of that, we saw viral videos of pilots exiting the flight deck, removing their masks in a show of principle, defiance, and announcing you no longer have to wear your mask.

And people cheered and it became a whole social media sensation. But let’s talk about what is going on here and the implications. It’s been abundantly clear for about four to six months, that there is massive pandemic fatigue in the United States. It’s clear that guidelines, public health guidelines, are no longer going to be informed, if they ever were, only by the data. 

Cases are up 25, 30%. We’re seeing a sort of slow-burn wave happening, but there’s no appetite for public health guidelines.

And so we’ve seen masks come off, basically everywhere. And we expected that on May 3rd, the federal mask mandate for airplanes was going to fall anyway. Maybe it would’ve been extended a little longer, maybe not. 

And there’s arguments to be made about its necessity. One argument is, listen, as long as everybody knows that the mask is optional on planes, the air filtration on planes is very good, it should be up to the individual. Certainly if you want to wear a mask, you should be allowed to wear one. Make it a personal choice, but don’t don’t make people do it. 

The counterpoint is we’ve had a number, even with mask requirements, they do come off for meal service, we’ve had planes become superspreader events. People, you know, leaving on a 10-hour flight and you land and 10, 15% of the plane, 20% of the plane has COVID.

So clearly transmission does happen on airplanes. 

For me, I take a more practical approach. Which is, this was inevitably going to fall. I don’t know how bad it needs to get before the masks go back on. 

I’ll make my choice. When I book, up until now, when I’ve booked flights during the pandemic, when I book the flight, it tells me everybody’s gotta wear a mask. So when I say yes, give me the ticket. I know everyone else will be wearing a mask, in theory, although on most flights it’s not enforced. 

And I know that I’m saying I will wear my mask. Now when I book a flight, I will know I might choose to wear a mask or not, but I might be the only person with a mask on the plane because it is now optional. And I can decide what I want to do on that basis.

The one thing about this that struck me as inappropriate or unfair is that many people were on those flights because they knew everybody would be masked. 

And when mid-flight you say: you can all take them off, that seems inappropriate to me. 

It seems to me, it would’ve been more logical to say effective at midnight or effective…whatever soon, tomorrow, whatever, because there are lots of people that were tweeting, “Listen, I’m immunocompromised. With everybody wearing masks, I’m willing to do it because I have to go somewhere. But if it weren’t that way I might drive or I might do something different.”

I think that that’s a fair criticism. 

Now, one of the other really interesting things about this, is this judge doesn’t strike me as a particularly bright judge. I’m just gonna be upfront and say that, but that’s okay. She doesn’t need to be. Me thinking you’re bright isn’t a requirement to be a judge. 

The reasoning she gave for why the mandate had to go is that the CDCs authority to enforce rules for the for sanitation, she says only apply to the sanitation of the airplane. And she wrote, correctly under this understanding, if the CDC is allowed to weigh in on how to sanitize planes, a mask doesn’t in a literal sense, sanitize the plane. And so, there were a couple more provisions, but this was a big piece of it. The CDC overstepped its authority. 

What is fascinating to me about that justification is that that justification would’ve been valid at any time during the pandemic. 

And yet the judge issued the ruling within just a couple of weeks of when the mask mandate was expected to end anyway. Originally it was April 18th and extended to May 3rd.

So some part of me wonders whether this is a judge who says, 

“I wouldn’t do this in the middle of the pandemic when there’s no end in sight for the masking. Now that we see when it would probably end anyway, I’m going to score some political points, mostly with conservatives.” 

Although many people, myself included, are tired of masks, but we want to understand whether they’re helping us in some way before we remove them. She might have said, “this is a really great opportunity to get my name in the news and score some political points.”

I think that that is something that is quite plausible in this particular case. 

So at this point, my question is, will this affect the number of people willing to get on a plane… and how many people will continue masking on planes even without it being a requirement.