One man’s battle to get the federal face mask mandate lifted has reached the Supreme Court where Justice Clarence Thomas is reviewing an application for an emergency injunction against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its order for passengers aged two and over on public transport, including airplanes, to wear a face mask.
Lucas Wall, 44, of Washington DC has made headlines for bringing a number of lawsuits against different airlines and the federal government over various face mask rules and pre-departure test requirements for travellers returning to the United States from abroad.
Wall suffers from general anxiety disorder and says he finds it impossible to wear a face mask. As a fully vaccinated American, he believes he shouldn’t be expected to wear a mask onboard an airplane and that the CDC has overstepped its regulatory, legal, and constitutional authority.
Pending the final outcome of a lawsuit Wall filed in Orlando, the frequent flyer has now appealed to the Supreme Court for an emergency preliminary injunction to stop the TSA and other federal agencies from being able to enforce the face mask mandate.
Wall says he needs to be granted relief by July 16 so that he can take an international flight to Germany on July 17.
“If this Court does not grant me relief, I will have to cancel this and another upcoming trip … until at least September because the District Court has indicated it will not even consider providing any relief until then,” Wall says.
The mask mandate is currently slated to expire on September 13 and Scott Kirby, chief executive of United Airlines told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday that he anticipates that the mask mandate to be dropped in September. Some airlines are, however, expected to enforce their own face mask rules for the foreseeable future.
Wall says that “perhaps tens of millions of Americans such as myself who medically can’t tolerate wearing a face mask are banned from using any mode of public transportation anywhere in the country”.
The campaigner hit the headlines last month when he submitted a 92-page complaint against seven different airlines alleging that their face mask rules violated the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) which guarantees disabled passengers certain rights.
Wall is demanding $35,188 in damages per alleged violation of ACAA with a total demand of $351,880. This covers eight booked flights from June 2 to July 10.
So far, Wall’s legal campaign has been hit by a series of setbacks. The South Florida District Court denied a temporary restraining order, concluding that his inability to fly didn’t cause him irreparable harm.
The Orlando federal court has also blocked consideration of two motions for preliminary injunctions while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit to hear the case at this early stage due to procedural issues.
Photo Credit: Ringo Chiu / Shutterstock.com
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.