Left Ignores Substance in Mask Ruling

It comes as no surprise that the Left was unhappy with Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle's decision to strike down the Biden Administration's federal transportation mask mandate earlier this week. But instead of focussing their criticism on the substance of the ruling, the Left has spent the last few days obsessing over Judge Mizelle's age and the fact that she is a Trump appointee. Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern exemplified the countless articles and tweets on this topic. As Jacob Sullum explained for the New York Post:

Mizelle backed up all three of [her] conclusions with extensive discussion and cogent reasons. But instead of explaining why she was wrong, Stern complained that “a single unelected, life-tenured, 35-year-old judge just abolished the air travel mask mandate for the entire country.”

In Stern’s view, that was intolerably undemocratic. He asked, “Who should decide whether air passengers must wear masks: A federal agency staffed with experts accountable to the president, who is accountable to the people? Or a 35-year-old Trump judge in Tampa?”

The issue in this case was not whether it makes sense to require that travelers wear masks. It was who gets to decide that and under what legal authority — a question that squarely resides with the judicial branch, not with the “experts” at an executive agency.

Even though the Biden Administration plans to appeal the ruling, it recognizes that the pity party from the Left does not reflect the values of many Americans. The National Review Editors noted that the appeal will focus more on the power to institute new mandates in the future, not immediately reinstate the one struck down:

Political reality seems to be dawning elsewhere. The White House signaled that it intends to contest the ruling — the CDC requested an appeal late Wednesday — but that it will not seek a stay. That means maskless flights can continue.

This move by the White House tells us that the administration believes it must retain the ability to impose these mask mandates in the future — a question of authority which it is free to contest. But by not asking for a stay, the administration betrayed that the White House believes the current situation is not so dire that the CDC mandate must be reimposed now. This is, in effect, a way for the White House to disown its own CDC.

Monday's decision marks a new era for pandemic policy in the United States. To learn more, join RNLA for a webinar this Friday at 2:00 p.m. titled, "Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic: Where Do We Go from Here?" Register here today!