Justice Department asks US appeals court to allow transit mask warrant

Washington— The Justice Department on Tuesday called on a federal appeals court to restore the nationwide mask mandate for public transit and airplanes after a U.S. District Judge concluded that the demands were unlawful in April.

In a brief filed with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Biden administration argued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) January 2021 order requiring travelers to wear masks on public transit and in transit centers to prevent the spread of COVID. -19 “falls easily” within the agency’s statutory authority.

“Taking preventative action is part of the CDC’s core mission. It is embodied in the agency’s name – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Justice Department attorneys told the 11th Circuit in their filing. “It makes no sense to suggest that the agency would not incorporate preventative measures into the actions it takes.”

The CDC’s mask warrant findings, they argued, “provide broad support for the agency’s determination that there was good reason to make the order effective without delay.”

The Biden administration officially appealed the decision by U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in April after the CDC said the transit mask requirement “remains necessary for public health.”

Mizelle, who sits in federal district court in Tampa, had ruled that the CDC’s order exceeded its statutory authority and violated procedures required for the agency’s rulemaking under federal law, and invalidated the warrant. of the mask. The decision came just days after the CDC announced it would be extension of the masking requirement until May 3 to give him more time to assess the impact of the BA.2 omicron subvariant of the coronavirus that is driving new infections in the United States

Following Mizelle’s decision, the Transportation Security Administration said it would not enforce the mask mandate on airplanes and public transportation, and major U.S. airlines made wearing a mask optional for passengers and employees. Ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft have also Voluntarily made masksjust like Amtrak.

The Justice Department, however, criticized Mizelle’s decision and accused the district court judge of passing a “narrow reading of a law intended to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.” The Biden administration also argued that it erred in rescinding the nationwide mask mandate and that it should have provided relief only to the five people who challenged the requirement.

“Article III and traditional principles of fairness dictate that any remedy must be limited to redressing the particular harms of plaintiffs,” argued the Justice Department. “Principles of comity and judicial restraint confirm that the district court should not have anticipated another judge’s recent decision upholding the CDC’s transport mask order or similar cases pending in other circuits. .”

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