A passenger prevented from boarding a Southwest Airlines flight has filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court seeking a preliminary injunction against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over its mandate requiring travelers to wear face coverings.
“This is an authoritarian policy that has no basis in law and has to come to an end,” Washington resident Lucas Wall told The Epoch Times in an interview.
Wall is fully vaccinated, but says he refuses to wear a face covering because doing so precipitates a feeling of panic and claustrophobia.
“I’ve been stranded at my mother’s in Florida because I don’t own a car, and I rely solely on public transportation. And I’ve essentially been banned from every single mode of public transportation,” Wall said. “But I’ve been hearing from hundreds of other Americans who are in the same boat where they have medical conditions, whereby they cannot tolerate wearing a mask, and they have been thrown off planes.
“There are probably tens of millions of Americans such as myself, who can’t or won’t wear a face mask for various medical and other reasons, who are essentially banned for using all forms of public transportation anywhere in the country right now because of this overzealous and illegal federal transportation mask mandate.”
The legal action comes after Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican and medical doctor who has had COVID-19, promised to file a bill to eliminate the mask mandate on airplanes.
“When the Senate returns to session, I will be introducing an immediate repeal of the mask mandate on planes. Enough! Time to stop this farce and let people travel in peace!” he wrote on Twitter on July 8.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced on April 30 that it was extending through Sept. 13 the face mask requirement for individuals across all transportation networks throughout the United States, including at airports, onboard commercial aircraft, on over-the-road buses, and on commuter buses and rail systems.
People who have been fully vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, are still required to be masked while using such transportation networks, consistent with CDC guidelines. The original face mask mandate took effect on Feb. 1. The TSA stated that the existing civil penalty fine structure, which starts at $250 and rises to $1,500 for repeat offenders, would remain in place for those who violate the face covering requirement.
The application, filed by Wall, who is representing himself, with the Supreme Court on July 12, is known as Wall v. CDC. In addition to the CDC, the other named defendants are the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and the Department of Transportation, as well as the TSA and President Joe Biden.
Wall is also suing other airlines, accusing them of discriminating against passengers like him who can’t wear masks because of medical conditions.
The application goes to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who sits as circuit justice for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which covers Florida. Wall, who is self-employed, also filed a lawsuit with a federal district court in Florida after he was denied boarding for a Southwest Airlines flight from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale on June 2.
Wall said in the document that he wants the court to “grant him a preliminary injunction to stop the Federal Defendants from enforcing the Federal Transportation Mask Mandate (“FTMM”) nationwide,” which he argues violates federal law, including the Constitution.
“I have been illegally restricted from flying during the last year of the COVID-19 pandemic because of my inability to wear a mask, especially since the FTMM took effect Feb. 1, 2021.
“Southwest refused to grant me a mask exemption even though I submitted the required form stating my Generalized Anxiety Disorder makes it impossible for me to tolerate wearing a face covering … when I booked my ticket May 31.
“TSA would not allow me to pass through the security checkpoint at Orlando airport, because Southwest had not endorsed my boarding pass as being mask-exempt.”
Time is of the essence, Wall argues in his application.
“I respectfully ask for relief no later than Friday, July 16, because I have a flight booked to Germany on Saturday, July 17, to visit my brother and his wife,” noting that he has already postponed the planned trip twice because he hasn’t been able to obtain preliminary injunctive relief from the District Court or the 11th Circuit.
“If this Court does not grant me relief, I will have to cancel this and another upcoming trip to Seattle … until at least September because the District Court has indicated it will not even consider providing any relief until then.”
Approached for comment, Southwest Airlines responded to The Epoch Times by email.
“We don’t have any commentary to offer here.”
Acting U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.