Health Advocacy Group Asks Federal Court to Strike Down CDC’s Traveler Mask Mandate

By Matthew Vadum
Matthew Vadum
Matthew Vadum
Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist and a recognized expert in left-wing activism.
July 14, 2021 Updated: July 14, 2021

A watchdog group is suing the U.S. government in federal court over its ongoing mask mandate that it says is based on medical quackery and needlessly forces travelers to don face masks that do little to combat the CCP virus that causes the disease COVID-19.

The lawsuit came the day after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas rejected an emergency application from air traveler Lucas Wall seeking a preliminary injunction against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over its mandate requiring travelers to wear face coverings. Thomas didn’t explain in the July 13 order why he turned down the application. Wall is also suing various airlines and federal agencies over the mandate.

The lawsuit was filed by Health Freedom Defense Fund Inc. (HFDF), a nonprofit headquartered in Sandpoint, Idaho, in the U.S. district court in Tampa, Florida, on July 12.

In the legal proceeding, known as HFDF v. Biden, there are two individual plaintiffs in addition to HFDF: Ana Carolina Daza and Sarah Pope, both of Florida. Among the defendants are President Joe Biden, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the CDC.

“The CDC is not a nationwide police force,” Leslie Manookian, president and founder of HFDF, said in a statement. “Americans must not be dictated to in this manner by anyone, let alone unelected, unaccountable technocrats at CDC.”

HFDF is suing Biden because “he wrote an executive order mandating masks [and] CDC has implemented it,” Manookian said in a separate interview with The Epoch Times. Her group aims “to restore the law and protect people’s rights,” she said.

HFDF “seeks to rectify health injustice through education, advocacy and legal challenges to unjust mandates, laws and policies that undermine our health freedoms and human rights,” according to its website. “We are working around the clock to implement a strategy to remove the unethical and unlawful mask, testing, and vaccine mandates being rolled out nationwide by government, businesses and educational institutions.”

“The executive branch is not supposed to make law,” Manookian said. “It’s also being applied in a very inappropriate, and I would say, arbitrary manner, in that people who legitimately have exemptions are not allowed to fly because the airlines are not allowing it.

“The airlines are telling passengers that it’s federal law, that they’ll be fined and kicked off of airplanes if they don’t comply. And that’s not true. There is no statute. It’s not federal law.”

“We don’t think that anybody should be able to tell us that we have to cover our airway. There is no doubt that covering our airway reduces the flow of oxygen and increases the CO2. There’s very, very clear research on this, and that has a spectrum of effects on the brain and the body, all of which are deleterious.”

And face masks disrupt human interactions, she said.

“Our face is the way that we interact with everyone else in our society and in our community. It is our avatar in public. Being forced to cover our face is making us faceless animals … to be corralled into wherever the government decides we should be corralled.”

The legal action challenges the validity of Executive Order 13998 issued on Jan. 21 by Biden, as well as the subsequent Jan. 29 mask mandate, titled “Requirement for Persons to Wear Masks While on Conveyances and at Transportation Hubs.” The mask mandate was issued by the CDC without allowing comments under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

The mask mandate requires that “when traveling on conveyances and at transportation hubs, all persons (with limited exceptions) must wear masks … [and] also requires conveyance operators and hub operators to make sure that all passengers are wearing masks, except in very limited circumstances,” according to the HFDF’s legal complaint.

The mandate violates the APA, the plaintiffs say, because it “is not in accordance with and exceeds the CDC’s statutory and regulatory authority,” was enacted without the notice and comment process required by the APA, and is arbitrary and capricious in that “it exempts children under age 2 without regard to scientific evidence of the impact of prolonged mask use on persons of all ages.”

The plaintiffs also argue that Biden’s executive order, in defiance of the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers, usurps a general police power traditionally relegated to the states. As an alternative argument, the plaintiffs say the mask mandate is an unlawful delegation of legislative authority.

HFDF attorney George Wentz of the Davillier Law Group, who has also worked as a lawyer for The Epoch Times, told The Epoch Times the lawsuit has a good chance of success “because the CDC has engaged in a good deal of overreach here.”

A federal court issued a preliminary injunction on June 18 against the CDC’s pandemic-related order from March 2020 locking down the cruise ship industry, he noted.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, a Republican, said at the time, according to Reuters, “The federal government does not, nor should it ever, have the authority to single out and lock down an entire industry indefinitely.”

Wentz said in an interview that the unelected bureaucrats of the CDC “certainly don’t possess” the power to make law for the United States.

“We’re pushing back against federal overreach and we’re protecting the rights of American citizens to self-determine, to use their brains to act responsibly, which we believe they will if they’re free to do so,” he said.

Asked about the lawsuit, Bob Page, public affairs officer, Department of Justice Civil Division, declined to comment.

Matthew Vadum
Matthew Vadum
Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist and a recognized expert in left-wing activism.