Dec 10, 2021 - Health

Chief justice rejects request to block air travel mask mandate

Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court John Roberts arrives at a joint session of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol April 28.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in Congress in April. Photo: Michael Reynolds /Pool/Getty Images

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday dismissed an emergency request to block the federal mask mandate for air travel amid litigation in the lower courts.

Driving the news: Michael Seklecki, a Florida resident, filed a lawsuit against the Transportation Security Administration on behalf of himself and his 4-year-old son, and Lucas Wall, from Washington, joined the suit, all citing medical reasons.

  • The government argued in an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that Congress had authorized the policy for safety reasons and noted "the challengers had not pursued an available procedure for obtaining medical exemptions," per the New York Times.
  • The appeals court has yet to rule on the suit.

Between the lines: Roberts didn't comment on his ruling, nor did he request a response to the emergency relief application or refer it to the full Supreme Court, indicating he "viewed the legal question in the case as insubstantial," the NYT notes.

The big picture: The TSA has on several occasions extended the mask mandate in response to surging COVID-19 cases and the threat of the Delta variant.

  • The current order for planes, trains, buses and at airports is due to expire March 18.
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