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Department of Justice Files Formal Appeal to Have Airplane Face Mask Mandate Reinstated

Department of Justice Files Formal Appeal to Have Airplane Face Mask Mandate Reinstated

The U.S. Department of Justice has finally filed a legal brief outlining its argument for why a court ruling that vacated the airplane face mask mandate should be overturned.

The DOJ told a federal appeals court that Florida district court judge Kathryn Mizelle was wrong to conclude that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had overstepped its powers by creating the public transport mask mandate.

Judge Mizelle vacated the mandate on April 18 following a lawsuit brought by lobby group the Heath Defense Fund. In her ruling, Judge Mizelle said the CDC had exceeded its statutory authority and offered nationwide relief against the mandate.

The Biden administration decided to drop enforcement of the mandate but the DOJ indicated it would appeal the ruling if the CDC concluded that masking was still necessary on public transport. Three days later, an appeal was lodged in a federal appeals court for the eleventh district.

Despite the fact that a slew of countries have now dropped their own public transport mask laws, the DOJ is pushing ahead with its appeal on the grounds that the mandate “falls easily within the CDC’s statutory authority”.

“The CDC’s statutory authority explicitly encompasses ‘sanitation’ measures and—as the district court itself recognized—a mask is a conventional sanitation measure,” the DOJ appeal explains.

Judge Mizelle wrote in her ruling that ‘sanitation’ measures should mean measures directed at property rather than people but the DOJ argues that face masks are a direct sanitation measure.

The appeal relies on other court rulings that found the CDC has acted within its authority by introducing the mask mandate.

The CDC has declined to say whether it would reissue its mask mandate should the DOJ win its appeal but the agency does still recommend that airplane passenger and public transport users continue to wear a face mask.

“Everyone aged 2 years or older—including passengers and workers— should properly wear a well-fitting mask or respirator in indoor areas of public transportation, especially in locations that are crowded or poorly ventilated such as airport jetways.” the CDC says in its latest advice.

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