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Many will have rejoiced or drawn a sigh of relief after learning that a federal court judge in Florida struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) national mask mandate for airplanes and public travel, including trains and buses.
Indeed, the Founding Fathers envisioned and designed the American government intending to prevent a concentration of power that could lead to corruption, cronyism, and tyrannical rule.
The cynics among us might state several layers of corruption within the United States following the rise of unelected bureaucrats and government agencies that started to chip away at our personal freedoms. Many have seemingly lost hope, and believe that the Swamp is a cancerous tumor that will completely engulf and destroy every healthy cell that constitutes the functioning of the American government as the Founding Fathers intended.
But those same men studied, discussed and debated the rise and fall of great empires when designing the legislative, executive and judicial branches of power. Indeed, the framework of the U.S. government continues to be actively used to protect our basic rights to life, liberty, and property.
U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, an appointee of 45th President Donald Trump, ruled that the COVID-19 mitigation measure was unlawful because it overstepped federal health agency authority. That is to say, the CDC failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rulemaking procedures when it enacted masking regulations in February of last year.
“Wearing a mask cleans nothing,” wrote Mizelle in her 59-page ruling. “At most, it traps virus droplets. But it neither ‘sanitizes’ the person wearing the mask nor ‘sanitizes’ the conveyance.”
The judge added that the courts had full authority to make such a decision, despite the CDC’s best intentions. “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.”
Only hours later, following this ruling, many airlines, airports, and transit systems lifted their masking requirements. In addition, the Transportation Security Administration said it would no longer require passengers to wear masks.
What a relief—we can breathe now and avoid germs clogging up in 8-hour worn masks, whether it’s fashionable, surgical, N95, KN95 or triple-layered with add-on filtering?
So we won! Game over, right?
Why striking down a national mask mandate is not game over
No time sooner after this ruling did we learn that the CDC reached out to The Department of Justice. Shortly after, a notice of appeal was filed in a federal court in Florida, seeking to overturn the judge’s order that voided the national mask mandate.
The CDC said in a statement that its “continuing assessment that at this time an order requiring masking in the indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for the public health” and added that it believes “this is a lawful order, well within CDC’s legal authority to protect public health.”
Unsurprisingly, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said it’s a “bad precedent” for judges to overturn mask mandates.
During a Fox News interview, Dr. Fauci said, “I think it’s a bad precedent when decisions about public health issues are made by people, be they judges or what have you, that don’t have experience or expertise in public health.” Although the NIAID director stated that he was not “defying the authority of a judge,” he does nonetheless believe that matters concerning public health “should remain a CDC decision.”
This kind of language reminds us that “Dr. Fauci knows best” and “attacking him is attacking the Science.” In other words, it is a warning that we cannot take our foot off the gas for as long as these federal government agencies continue to believe they are kings and operate in ways that defy the original founding of this great Republic.
These mandates won’t be magically lifted without the consistent, organized pressure of activism, whether mask or vaccine-related. Undoubtedly, such committed efforts will help to topple forced requirements that arguably violate bodily autonomy, contradict growing evidence from independent scientific bodies, and not least, defy common sense.
Though vaccine requirements are being lifted, we’re not quite there yet
Over time, more cities and states have moved to lift restrictions that require COVID-19 vaccine-related identification and forced mask-wearing. For example, officials in Los Angeles have moved forward to end requirements of showing proof of vaccination at certain businesses. The Los Angeles City Council ordered the city attorney to write an ordinance to eliminate needing evidence of vaccination for large outdoor gatherings and make them voluntary for indoor events at bars and gyms.
Yet a number of vocal public health “experts” are not happy about returning to normalcy. And they probably never will be.
Dr. Sadiya Khan, an epidemiologist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said she understands “the business perspective to remove vaccine mandates and to encourage more patrons and guests.”
Nevertheless, Khan also remarked that:
I wish the pandemic were over and it was safe to lift vaccine mandates, particularly in spaces where masks will be off for eating and drinking…Vaccine mandates are safe and effective public health strategies, and backing down on this is likely to worsen spread.
Moreover, Anthony Santella from the Department of Health Administration and Policy at the University of New Haven in Connecticut, expressed a similar view:
It’s too soon. We went through this in the summer, when many people thought things were getting back to normal and rolled back the mitigation policies designed to stop the spread.
Scott Roberts, associate medical director of infection prevention at Yale New Haven Hospital said in response to mask mandates expiring in Connecticut health care. “Our trajectory is not good. That makes me all very uneasy as masks are coming off. Now is not the time to rescind mask mandates.”
Many health officials might be sincerely thinking about the “greater public good.” However, they may not appreciate that many members of the American public fiercely value their personal freedoms. Furthermore, they have questioned the authenticity of the CDC’s “science” and the justification for any COVID-19 mandate that violates their bodily autonomy—labeled “needle rape.”
Recently, we learned that the University of Cincinnati (U.C.) intends to drop its COVID-19 vaccine mandate this summer, joining a small list of colleges, including the University of Hawaii, Virginia Tech and George Mason University. That said, U.C. still “strongly recommends” that faculty, staff, and students are vaccinated.
The drive to drop vaccine and mask requirements at higher education institutions is only beginning, albeit in some states more than others—take a wild guess which ones. Activist students, parents, and lawyers alike will feel pushed to file lawsuits at other institutions, demanding that the mandates be dropped with robust and compelling justification.
So no, it’s definitely not game over. We’re just starting.
Stubbornness in New York City
Mayor Eric Adams will not consider dropping the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for city workers, despite learning about several school employees who apparently submitted fake proof of vaccination—a loud but unspoken signal from many New Yorkers.
“I’m really disappointed to learn that there were fake vaccination cards,” said Adams. “Not only is that illegal, it undermines our entire trust.”
Several educators and school staff will have been placed on unpaid leave, allowing the Special Commissioner of Investigation and law enforcement to investigate their alleged fake proof of vaccination.
To add to further disappointment, the Supreme Court declined to take up a lawsuit filed by four public school teachers who argued that the city’s vaccine mandate violated their right to practice their profession.
We can’t take our foot off the gas
The inner activist within ourselves is lit when we believe in a cause or ideal badly enough to take action. Sometimes that action means not attending our favorite restaurant or bar requiring vaccination proof. Instead, it means supporting the small businesses that are not complying with its city’s un-Constitutional policies and welcomes virtually every law-abiding individual. Suppose vaccine or mask exemption requests or cards are turned away or thrown straight into the bin. In that case, it might mean registering our children for homeschooling or finding online learning to pursue higher education.
Unfortunately, many will have resorted to fake vaccination documentation because they do not want to compromise their bodily integrity while knowing that they have bills to pay and mouths to feed. Indeed, we are living through some extraordinary times— extraordinary enough where normally peaceful, lawful citizens are making such choices.
Indeed, it will take the ongoing committed efforts of everyday Americans and organized grassroots groups to stand up for our rights, our children’s rights, and our future families’ rights.
By Cameron Keegan
Cameron Keegan is an independent researcher and writer on American politics, faith, and culture affecting young people through a conservative disposition. Having worked with children, teenagers, and young adults to support their learning and development, Cameron cares deeply about the trajectory of the United States. To learn more about Cameron’s work, visit https://ckeeganan.substack.com, and for comments or questions, send an email to email@example.com.”
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Ivan Radic, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons