Judge’s ‘textualist’ ruling on airline mask mandate sparks backlash

A federal judge in Florida stirred controversy Monday by striking down the Biden administration’s mask mandate for public travel in a ruling that critics derided as overly formalistic and divorced from the health imperatives of a global pandemic.


In a 59-page decision, Tampa-based U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, a Trump appointee, ruled that the measure went beyond the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) authority.


The opinion drew criticism on multiple fronts, ranging from personal attacks over the 35-year-old judge’s youth and qualifications for the bench, to accusations of judicial overreach.