A group of 13 flyers from nine states and the District of Columbia filed six lawsuits today charging the Transportation Security Administration with exceeding its legal authority by continuing to extend a requirement that all public-transportation passengers don face masks.
The coordinated effort by a dozen disabled Americans and a former flight attendant who quit rather than enforce the Federal Transportation Mask Mandate used a special legal provision to file directly in six circuits of the U.S. Courts of Appeals.
At the direction of Joe Biden, TSA put the “FTMM” into effect Feb. 1. It was set to expire May 11, but got extended until Sept. 13. TSA then continued the requirement to Jan. 18, 2022. Petitioners ask the courts to declare the TSA orders illegal and unconstitutional to ensure they can never be extended again.
“TSA’s function is limited by law to address security threats. Congress has never given the agency power to regulate the public health and welfare,” the petitioners argue. “Wearing face masks has nothing whatsoever to do with transportation security.”
Petitions for review of TSA’s mask mandate were filed in the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York; 4th Circuit in Richmond, Virginia; 5th Circuit in New Orleans; 6th Circuit in Cincinnati; 8th Circuit in St. Louis; and 11th Circuit in Atlanta.
Michael Faris of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, has to fly every 12 days for work as a helicopter maintenance supervisor. He is medically exempt by a neurologist from wearing a mask, but the airlines refuse to grant him an exception because of the FTMM. Faris was injured on a United Airlines plane when blocking his breathing caused him to faint during a flight. He smashed his face on a galley cart.
“As a person who has endured physical injury by the airlines due to these unconstitutional mandates, I am standing up for people like me,” Faris said. “We cannot allow TSA to continue down the path of discriminating against Americans with medical conditions who cannot wear a face covering.”
The group of petitioners also includes a Florida man and his 4-year-old autistic son who need to fly to Massachusetts for specialized medical care; a New York City businessman who has had to drive more than 25,000 miles during the pandemic because airlines won’t let him fly; a Missouri veteran who was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight for not masking; a Washington, D.C., globetrotter TSA refused to let through its checkpoint June 2 at Orlando International Airport; an Ohio couple who has been unable to use public transportation because of their health problems; an Allegiant Air flight attendant from North Carolina who quit over moral objections to forcing passengers to obstruct their breathing; and a Florida man who’s been harassed the few times he was allowed to fly mask-free and was banned from the local bus system.
Kleanthis Andreadakis of Henrico County, Virginia, wasn’t allowed to fly to Massachusetts to help his son move despite having a doctor’s note that he shouldn’t wear a mask. He had to drive instead and pay $250 for a trailer to attach to the moving truck to haul his car back to Virginia.
“I am taking a stand against these nonsensical mask mandates that have been forced on Americans by TSA,” Andreadakis said. “It’s absolutely appalling that our government forces us to sue for being denied rights already spelled out in laws enacted by Congress, laws the Biden Administration continues to ignore. We represent the tens of millions of Americans who can’t or don’t want to obstruct our breathing. We are standing up across the country to make our voices heard.”
The FTMM represents the greatest systemic discrimination against the disabled since the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. Petitioners argue TSA’s mandate violates not only the ADA but also the Air Carrier Access Act; Rehabilitation Act; Food, Drug, & Cosmetic Act; their constitutional right to travel; and other federal laws and international treaties. By regulating intrastate transportation and commandeering state employees to enforce the mask mandate, TSA’s orders also violate the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, according to the petitions.