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TAMPA, Florida (LifeSiteNews) — Americans will no longer be required to wear masks on airplanes thanks to a ruling handed down Monday by a Florida-based federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, a Trump-appointee who previously clerked for conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, struck down the CDC mask mandate for public transportation on April 18, calling the controversial rule “unlawful.”

“Because ‘our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in the pursuit of desirable ends,’ the court declares unlawful and vacates the mask mandate,” Mizelle wrote in her 59-page ruling, which voided the mandate just days after the CDC had elected to extend it for another 15 days.

RELATED: Masks ‘don’t add much, if anything,’ to safety, airline CEOs tell Congress

The district court judge’s decision came in response to a lawsuit filed in July, 2021 by the nonprofit Health Freedom Defense Fund (HFDF), which has launched a bevy of lawsuits challenging coercive COVID-19 mandates and requirements since last year.

HFDF has called the Monday ruling a “victory for basic American liberty and the rule of law.”

“Without any public comment, or serious scientific justification, CDC bureaucrats imposed a sweeping Travel Mask Mandate applying to every American over the age of two,” HFDF President Leslie Manookian explained in a press release. 

“There are laws that set boundaries for federal agencies to protect individual freedom, and the Court clearly found that CDC exceeded those limits,” Manookian added. “Unelected officials cannot do whatever they like to our personal freedoms just because they claim good motives and a desirable goal.” 

The New York Post noted that the HFDF’s lawsuit was filed “on behalf of two women who claimed that wearing masks on airplanes triggered or exacerbated anxiety and panic attacks.”

RELATED: 47 studies confirm ineffectiveness of masks for COVID and 32 more confirm their negative health effects

Mizelle stated in her ruling that “the only remedy was to vacate the rule entirely because it would be impossible to end it solely for the two plaintiffs, writing that ‘a limited remedy would be no remedy at all.’”

Within hours of the court’s decision, major U.S. airlines including United, Southwest, American, and Alaska, released statements affirming that their mask mandates had been lifted, making mask-wearing optional for all domestic flights. Uber, Amtrak, and other public transportation companies have also announced they will scrap their mask rules.

In its April 18 press release, Southwest Airlines said that, starting Monday, employees and customers “will be able to choose whether they would like to wear a mask, and we encourage individuals to make the best decision to support their personal wellbeing.”

Similarly, United affirmed that “[e]ffective immediately, masks are no longer required at United on domestic flights, select international flights (dependent upon the arrival country’s mask requirements) or at U.S. airports,” adding that “employees are no longer required to wear a mask” and will “no longer have to enforce a mask requirement for most of the flying public.” 

Videos shared on social media have shown airplane passengers responding with applause following announcements from crew members that masks would no longer be required.

The Biden administration initially signaled it was not happy with the decision to void the mandate, giving rise to speculation they might move to challenge the ruling.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded to the rollback of the mask rule by calling the decision “disappointing,” and urged travelers to continue masking up on airplanes regardless of the ruling.

Hours later, a Biden administration official noted the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would no longer enforce the federal mask mandate thanks to the Florida judge’s ruling, but said that federal agencies are “assessing potential next steps.” 

“The agencies are reviewing the decision and assessing potential next steps,” the official said, according to The Hill. “In the meantime, today’s court decision means CDC’s public transportation masking order is not in effect at this time.” 

“Therefore, TSA will not enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs at this time,” the official added.  

Despite the Biden administration’s evident disappointment with seeing the mask mandate withdrawn, the rule had become increasingly controversial over the past months, with numerous states, lawmakers, and even airline executives calling on the federal government to drop the rule.

Last month, airline industry executives from 10 major U.S. airlines joined forces to craft a letter urging the Biden administration to drop its “now-outdated” mask mandate for airports and airplanes.

RELATED: CEOs of 10 major US airlines call on Biden to drop ‘outdated’ mask mandate for planes, airports

“It makes no sense that people are still required to wear masks on airplanes, yet are allowed to congregate in crowded restaurants, schools and at sporting events without masks, despite none of these venues having the protective air filtration system that aircraft do,” the executives wrote.

The letter directed to President Biden came after the CEOs of Southwest Airlines and American Airlines testified in a December Senate committee hearing that masks did little, if anything, to stop the spread of COVID-19 on planes.

Meanwhile, in a bipartisan rebuke last month, the U.S. Senate voted 57-40 against the ongoing federal mask mandate for public transportation after Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky introduced a resolution calling for an immediate end to the requirement. 

Late last month, Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody led 20 other states in filing a federal lawsuit against the Biden administration over the CDC mandate.

RELATED: Florida, 20 other states sue Biden administration to drop federal mask mandates

“We’ve been very clear that we want people to be able to make their own decisions. We don’t believe in COVID theater,” Florida Gov. DeSantis said during a press conference, adding that “forcing people to wear masks on airplanes” isn’t “something that’s grounded in any science.”