The DOJ says it will only appeal the mask-mandatory ruling if the CDC gives it the green light

The Justice Department said Tuesday night it would appeal a federal judge’s decision to lift a statewide mask mandate if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the requirement was “necessary for public health.”

The DOJ’s announcement came more than 24 hours after Florida U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle ruled that the CDC had exceeded its authority by enforcing the mask rule and ordered the mandate overturned.

Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said in a statement that officials in the Biden administration believe the rule is “a valid exercise of authority granted by Congress to the CDC to protect public health.”

“This is an important authority that the Department will continue to work to uphold,” added Coley.

Last week, the CDC announced that the transportation mask mandate would be extended to May 3, after it was originally scheduled to expire last Monday. In its announcement, the health agency cited an increase in COVID-19 cases and claimed it needed more time to study the BA.2 Omicron subvariant.

A mask on the floor
A passenger now removes their mask as they no longer need to travel.
Getty Images/Spencer Platt

“If, following this assessment, the CDC concludes that a mandatory public health order is still required, the Department of Justice will appeal the district court’s decision,” Coley said Tuesday.

The CDC has not yet issued any public comment on Judge Mizelle’s ruling.

The DOJ’s announcement capped a day of mixed signals from the White House on the verdict. President Biden himself told reporters in New Hampshire “it’s up to them” when asked whether people on airplanes should continue to wear masks.

Travelers waiting to be checked in
Travelers are getting mixed messages about where they are required to wear masks.
Reuters/Brian Snyder

However, the President and his fellow passengers aboard Air Force One were required to disguise themselves, despite the ruling and many airlines and carriers relinquishing the mandate.

On board the presidential plane, Psaki described the CDC’s recent 15-day extension as “entirely reasonable based on the latest science.”

“Public health decisions should not be made by courts,” the spokesman said. “They should be created by public health experts.”

When asked about footage showing airline passengers and workers celebrating the lifting of the mask mandate, Psaki replied, “Anecdotes are not dates.”

Masks and unmasked passengers
The CDC has not publicly commented on Judge Mizelle’s decision.
New York Post
    Some people wear masks and others choose not to wear them at LaGuardia Airport.
Some people wear masks and others choose not to wear them at LaGuardia Airport.
Gregory P. Mango

“We don’t make these decisions based on politics or political whims on a plane or even in a poll,” Psaki said. “But I would find in polls … there are still a lot of people in this country who still want masks.”

Since the judge’s ruling, major airlines and airports have switched to mandatory mask policies in places like Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City — while cities like Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Kansas City have done the same in mass transit.

In New York, masks are still mandatory on board buses, subways and taxis, as well as at LaGuardia and JFK airports. However, in New Jersey, masks are optional at NJ Transit and Newark Liberty International Airport. Customers on the PATH train, which serves both New York and New Jersey, are required to keep their faces covered, while Amtrak has dropped its mask requirement for customers and employees.

With mail wires The DOJ says it will only appeal the mask-mandatory ruling if the CDC gives it the green light


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