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Who is Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, who struck down the mask mandate?

The federal judge voided the nationwide mask mandate for travel on airplanes and other forms of public transportation.

TAMPA, Fla. — A Tampa-based federal judge made headlines Monday for voiding the national mask mandate covering airplanes and other forms of public transportation.

In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle said the rule exceeded the authority of U.S. health officials in the coronavirus pandemic. In her 59-page ruling, Mizelle said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention failed to justify its decision and did not follow the proper rule-making process.

But, just who is Judge Mizelle?

The Lakeland native is a graduate of Lakeland Christian School Covenant College. In 2012, she received her law degree from the University of Florida. Following her college career, Mizelle served as a clerk for several federal judges, including Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in 2018. A year later, Mizelle would work as a private attorney.

In 2020, eight years after entering the profession, former President Donald Trump would nominate Mizelle to a seat on the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. During her Senate confirmation, a majority of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary would rate Mizelle as "not qualified" for the position. Members of the ABA sent a letter to Senators Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Dianne Feinstein, D-California, raising concerns about Mizelle's level of experience. 

According to the letter, the ABA believed nominees should have at least 12 years of experience practicing law. Mizelle would counter those concerns during her confirmation hearing by saying her time as a federal prosecutor made her qualified for the job.

She had the support of Florida’s senators. In 2020, Sen. Marco Rubio called her “highly qualified.”

“Almost two years ago I enthusiastically pushed Judge Mizelle to be a district court judge. Today she issued a common sense decision that makes me especially proud that I did,” Rubio tweeted Monday.

Mizelle was confirmed by the Senate in a 49-41 vote. 

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