She tried her best — both to comply with the sharp demands from the flight attendant that she mask her 2-year-old daughter and to console the upset toddler.

Another passenger recorded the harsh words of the flight attendant to the young single mother: “If (the toddler) can’t wear a mask, then she shouldn’t travel with you.” She tried a bottle. The flight attendant came back and demanded that the toddler’s mask go back on between sips. Eventually, the plane took off — 40 minutes later and without the mother and child.

Any parent who has traveled with a young child knows it’s a balancing act trying to keep a child calm and contented in unfamiliar, often scary, surroundings while also being considerate of fellow travelers.

The government’s powers are also a balancing act. In the case of mask mandates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clearly failed to balance its duties against the constitutional authority of Congress. That’s why we joined together with the state of Texas to sue the CDC, challenging the constitutionality of its mask mandates on airplanes and in airports. It’s time for the federal government to be stripped of the nondelegated, unauthorized powers it seized during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the recent lifting of mask mandates in Democratic-run cities, Dr. Anthony Fauci still wants masking to be permanent. When asked on Dec. 19, 2021, if we would see the end of masks on airplanes because of advanced filtration systems, Fauci said, “I don’t think so.”

So how long will you have to wear a mask on an airplane? The answer might be “forever” if unelected bureaucrats have their say.

Speaking of unelected bureaucrats, what is in the CDC’s scope of power? The law says the CDC can institute measures that “directly relate to preventing the interstate spread of disease by identifying, isolating, and destroying the disease itself.” It can do this through “inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, pest extermination, destruction of animals or articles to be found to be so infected or contaminated as to be sources of dangerous infection to human beings, and other measures.” That is the slender reed upon which the entire CDC airplane mask mandate hangs.

That slender reed is not enough. As we argue in our case, Congress never gave the CDC the power to order universal masking on airplanes, and executive agencies cannot exercise power that Congress did not give them. It really is as simple as this: The CDC mask mandate for air travel is therefore illegal and unconstitutional.

This is not the first time the Texas Public Policy Foundation has called out the CDC for going beyond its power. In Terkel v. CDC, the TPPF sued the CDC over its eviction moratorium requiring landowners to allow tenants to stay without paying rent and won. The CDC didn’t have the power to do that, just as it doesn’t have the power to require that every individual wear a mask on a plane, train, or automobile, regardless of the likelihood of spread.

We’ve all felt the powerlessness of trying to console a crying child. We’ve all felt the powerlessness of having to adhere to mask mandates even when they are illegal and make no sense. The government will never pony up for the damages inflicted by the mandates (because of sovereign immunity), but together, we can send the question of whether masks should be required on airplanes to Congress. And we will win.