- Last week, the CDC was sued by a Chicago rideshare driver for his mask mandate.
- Justin Mahwikizi, the driver, said the mandate limits his freedom of speech and religion.
- “It is against my Christian beliefs to refuse to serve someone in need,” he told Insider.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
A man who works as a driver for ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Uber in Chicago last week filed a lawsuit against the CDC over his federal mask mandate, saying it was unconstitutional.
Justin Mahwikizi said in his complaint that the mask’s mandate limited both his freedom of religion and his freedom of expression. He said that’s because he had to refuse service to passengers without a mask.
“It is against my Christian beliefs to refuse service to someone in need, referring to the parable of the Good Samaritan of Jesus Christ and the Bible,” he told Insider in a telephone interview Saturday. “And that’s why I’m arguing that the CDC is infringing on my religious practice rights, forcing me to deny service to someone in need.”
The lawsuit came amid a broader discussion about whether the CDC should update its position on the use of masks for fully vaccinated travelers. The CDC’s Jan. 29 guide directed all travelers to cover their faces when on public transportation, including airplanes, buses, and carpooling.
Senator Ted Cruz, late last month, led a group of senators in announcing a bill seeking an end to federal mask mandates for those who received their vaccinations.
Others have asked travelers to continue wearing masks. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigeig said in late May that wearing a mask was “a question of safety, but also a question of respect.”
Mahwikizi in his lawsuit requested a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order to prevent the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services from enforcing the mask mandates.
“The [mandate] it is arbitrary, irrational and capricious because the federal defendants failed to reasonably explain why other measures are insufficient to address the rapidly declining COVID-19 infection and death rates, “he wrote.
Insider has reached out to the CDC for comment.
Mahwikizi, who is representing himself, said he works primarily in the Chicago area, but sometimes takes passengers to Indiana or Wisconsin. He said he found himself in some situations where he had to leave potential clients behind because they didn’t have their faces covered.
“Acceptance of service is a form of freedom of expression,” he wrote in his complaint, filed Monday in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
He began writing his complaint a few months ago. When Lucas Wall sued seven airlines last month, Mahwikizi followed the news coverage.
He said he reached out to Wall for advice on how to handle federal rules and procedures, as Wall was also representing himself.