Supreme Court Rejects Request to Block Federal Mask Mandate on Planes

mask on airplane
Getty Images/Yaroslav Astakhov

The Supreme Court on Tuesday formally rejected a request to block the federal mask mandate for air travel.

A father of an autistic child, Michael Seklecki, filed the emergency application, asserting that he and his child are not able to wear a mask. Lucas Wall also joined the lawsuit, claiming that he has been unable to fly because he is medically unable to wear a mask as well. The request, filed to Justice Neil Gorsuch, was denied by the justices with no further comment.

“The application for stay addressed to Justice Gorsuch and referred to the Court is denied,” the order list reads in part.

This decision, however, should not necessarily be seen as reflection of the legal merits of coronavirus mandates, as any non-lawyer can file lawsuit papers against anyone, as it appeared to occur in this very case. Additionally, the case was filed in one of the most liberal courts in the country, further suggesting the Supreme Court’s declining to weigh in should be viewed more as resulting from the lack of legal skill of the individuals taking the issue to court rather than a reflection of the underlying issue itself.

The court’s decision follows one year of the Biden administration continually extending the mask requirement on planes, with no immediate end in sight. In December, the Biden administration announced yet another extension of the rule, requiring masks for travel on aircraft, train, and other forms of public transportation.

“And we are extending the requirement, both internationally and domestically, to wear masks for travel on aircraft, train, public transportation, through the winter months,” Biden said during a speech at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The mandate, which the Biden administration has extended on more than one occasion, was slated to end January 18, but Biden said it will now continue through the “winter months.” Notably, mass masking did not stop the surge, and the country is now far beyond “just” 100 days of masking. TSA’s current mask mandate is not slated to end until March 18, 2022.

It remains one of the several promises Biden has broken, as he originally pitched “just” 100 days of masking prior to taking office.

“Wear your mask for just 100 days. It’s the easiest thing you can do to reduce COIVD cases, hospitalizations, and death,” Biden said at the time.

“Whatever your politics or point of view — mask up for 100 days. Once we take office. 100 days to make a difference. It’s not a political statement, it’s a patriotic act,” he added.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) is among those who have blasted the federal mask mandate for air travel, reminding the American people that Congress “never passed a law requiring masks on planes”:

The court’s decision comes on the heels of its 6-3 decision striking down Biden’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) vaccine mandate, which would have affected roughly 84 million workers. However, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined their liberal colleagues in upholding the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) mandate on healthcare workers, although the court acknowledged exemptions for religious and medical reasons.

The application is Wall v. Transportation Security Administration, No. 21A198 in the Supreme Court of the United States.


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