Justice Department appeals mask mandate in airplanes, trains

Justice Department appeals mask mandate in airplanes, trains

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department asked a federal appeals court to overturn a U.S. District Court judge's April order that declared the government's mandate requiring masks on airplanes, buses and transit hubs unlawful.

The Biden administration said it would no longer enforce the mandate after the federal judge in Florida declared it unconstitutional.

The Justice Department told the appeals court that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order issued in January 2021 was within the agency's legal authority.

The CDC didn't respond to a request for comment Tuesday on whether it would reinstate the requirement if the ruling was overturned.

The CDC extended mask requirements through May 3, just days before U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball s April 18 order. The CDC said earlier this month it still recommends travelers wear masks in airplanes, trains and buses.

The Justice Department s appeal came just hours before the appeals court filing deadline.

The Justice Department wrote that the CDC findings in early 2021 provided ample support for the agency's determination that there was good cause to make the order effective without delay and that none of the district court squarrels with the CDC order comes close to showing that the CDC has acted outside the zone of reasonableness. The Federal Aviation Administration said this month the rate of unruly air passenger incidents fell to its lowest level since late 2020, as a result of the judge's mask mandate ruling, which also lifted requirements for masks in taxis or ride-share vehicles.