June 1, 2022 — The U.S. Justice Department is asking an appeals court to reverse a judge’s ruling that stopped the federal government from requiring passengers to wear face masks on airplanes and other forms of public transportation.
In documents filed with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, the Justice Department says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention actually does have the authority to issue the mask mandate, contrary to what U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle contended, NPR reported.
“None of the district court’s quarrels with the CDC order comes close to showing that the CDC has acted outside the ‘zone of reasonableness,'” the Justice Department said in a brief. “The findings in the CDC order provide ample support for the agency’s determination that there was good cause to make the order effective without delay.”
Major airlines stopped requiring passengers to wear face masks on board planes last April after Mizelle’s ruling.
Mizelle, a Donald Trump appointee, said the mask mandate was unconstitutional because Congress never granted the CDC the power to create such a requirement.
“Congress addressed whether the CDC may enact preventative measures that condition the interstate travel of an entire population to CDC dictates. It may not,” Mizelle’s order said.
The mask mandate went into effect in February 2021, during the height of the pandemic, and required travelers to wear masks onboard planes, trains, public buses, and in airports. It had been extended several times.
The Biden administration said it would appeal Judge Mizelle’s ruling if the CDC thought the mask mandate was still needed, NPR said. The CDC still recommends people wear masks on public transit.