- The CDC last week was sued by a Chicago rideshare driver over its mask mandate.
- Justin Mahwikizi, the driver, said the mandate limits his freedoms of speech and religion.
- “It’s against my Christian beliefs to refuse service to someone in need,” he told Insider.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A man who works as a driver for rideshare apps like Lyft and Uber in Chicago last week filed a lawsuit against the CDC over its federal mask mandate, saying it was unconstitutional.
Justin Mahwikizi said in his complaint that the mask mandate limited both his freedom of religion and freedom of speech. He said that’s because he’s had to refuse service to unmasked passengers.
“It’s against my Christian beliefs to refuse service to someone in need, referring to the Good Samaritan parable of Jesus Christ and the Bible,” he told Insider in a phone interview on Saturday. “And so I’m arguing that the CDC is infringing on my religious practice rights that’s forcing me to deny service to someone in need.”
The lawsuit came amid a broader discussion about whether the CDC should update its stance on mask-wearing for fully vaccinated travellers. The CDC’s guidance from January 29 ordered all travellers to cover their faces when on public transit, including planes, buses, and rideshares.
Sen. Ted Cruz late last month led a group of senators in announcing a bill that sought an end to federal mask mandates for those who’ve had their shots.
Others have called for travellers to continue wearings masks. Transportation secretary Pete Buttigeig in late May said wearing a mask was a “matter of safety, but it’s also a matter of respect.”
Mahwikizi in his lawsuit sought a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order to stop the CDC and the Dept. of Health & Human Services from enforcing mask mandates.
“The [mandate] is arbitrary, irrational, and capricious because the Federal Defendants failed to reasonably explain why other measures are insufficient to tackle the rapidly declining COVID-19 infection and death rates,” he wrote.
Insider has reached out to the CDC for comment.
Mahwikizi, who’s representing himself, said he mostly works in the Chicago area, but sometimes takes passengers into Indiana or Wisconsin. He said he’s found himself in a few situations where he had to leave potential customers behind because they didn’t have their faces covered.
“The acceptance of service is a form of free speech,” he wrote in his complaint, filed Monday in US District Court in the Northern District of Illinois.
He started drafting his complaint a few months ago. When Lucas Wall last month sued seven airlines, Mahwikizi followed the news coverage.
He said he reached out to Wall for some advice on handling federal rules and procedures, since Wall was also representing himself.