Judge Kathryn Mizelle's Mask Mandate Ruling 'a Shambles'—Legal Analyst

Legal scholar Laurence Tribe has called a court decision voiding a federal mask mandate on airplanes, trains and buses "a shambles" after a U.S. federal district judge issued the ruling on Monday.

Tribe, a former professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, took to Twitter on Monday to slam the decision by U.S District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle.

He shared a tweet from attorney Ron Filipkowksi that criticized Mizelle's ruling and featured a photo of her with Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. Mizelle clerked for Thomas after graduating from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

"She did it without even an oral argument!" Tribe wrote. "No wonder she earned a really rare ABA rating of 'unqualified' to be a federal judge."

"Her opinion is a shambles, filled with unsupported medical claims as though she were an expert in fields about which she knows even less than about law!" he went on.

The American Bar Association (ABA) said at the time of Mizelle's nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in September 2020 that a "substantial majority" of its Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary had deemed her "not qualified" for the position.

Mizelle had begun practicing law eight years before her nomination—short of the ABA's 12-year benchmark for nominees to the federal bench, the association said in a letter to Senators Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who was the then chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat.

The ABA also pointed out that Mizelle had never tried a case as a lead or co-counsel, although it praised her "very keen intellect" and resumé.

In a tweet earlier on Monday, Tribe had also pointed to the ABA's previous assessment of Mizelle's qualifications.

"This misguided nationwide injunction speaks well for the ABA's ratings system that deemed its author unqualified, not so well for the Senators who voted to put this inexperienced Trump appointee on the federal bench with lifetime power over matters of life and death . . ." Tribe wrote.

Mizelle was nominated to the federal district court by then President Donald Trump in August, 2020 and confirmed by the Senate three months later, with 49 Republicans voting to confirm and 41 Democrats opposing her.

In her 59-page ruling on Monday, Mizelle said the mask mandate exceeded the authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and that the CDC had failed to justify the requirements.

Newsweek has asked the CDC for comment on the ruling.

"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," Mizelle wrote.

Some major U.S. airlines have already announced that mask requirements will be lifted. They have been joined by Amtrak and Uber.

Passengers Wear Masks on the Subway
Passengers wear masks at the subway during rush hour on June 08, 2021 in New York City. A district judge in Florida struck down the CDC's federal mask mandate for transport on Monday. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images