DOJ moves to appeal ruling that overturned the federal mask mandate

DOJ moves to appeal ruling that overturned the federal mask mandate

The Justice Department has moved to appeal a ruling that struck down the federal mask mandate on planes, trains and transit systems after a request by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC said in a statement Wednesday that an order requiring masking in the indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for the public health, and that it has asked the DOJ to proceed with an appeal.

The Justice Department said it had filed a notice of appeal in light of today's assessment by the CDC in a statement late Wednesday afternoon.

The appeals court hasn't asked the appeals court to block the judge's order that lifted the federal mask mandate on transit systems, meaning passengers will be able to travel maskless while the decision is litigated.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle ruled that the travel mask mandate was unlawful, arguing that the CDC overstepped its legal authority by imposing the mandate in February 2021.

The mandate that was being rolled out to combat the Covid 19 epidemic had been extended to May 3 before it was struck down.

The DOJ announced earlier this week that it would appeal the ruling if the CDC decides masks are still required on public transportation for public health.

The CDC said Wednesday that masks are most beneficial in crowded or poorly ventilated locations, such as the transportation corridor. When people wear a well-fitting mask or respirator over their nose and mouth in indoor travel or public transportation settings, they protect themselves and those around them, including those who are immunocompromised or not yet vaccine-eligible, and help make travel and public transportation safer for everyone. The White House said the Transportation Security Administration will no longer enforce masking on public transport and transportation hubs because of the ruling. A number of airlines, including American, Delta, and United, have issued statements saying masks are now optional.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a news conference Wednesday that the Biden administration is deferring to the CDC on what they believe is needed at this moment. The agency extended the mandate because they felt they had to look at the data, given that we saw a rise in cases, Psaki said, noting that the DOJ had signaled it would appeal the judge's decision to empower the CDC during the public health crisis.

She said that they want to preserve that authority for the CDC in the future.