TSA Can Require Masks After Supreme Court Backs Lower Court

TSA Can Require Masks After Supreme Court Backs Lower Court Masked airplane Photo illustration of a mask covering an airplane's nose. (Dreamstime)

By Jay Clemons | Monday, 31 October 2022 02:36 PM EDT

The Supreme Court has opted not to supersede a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals, which had previously determined the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) could require airline passengers to wear masks during national health emergencies.

In the D.C. Circuit's original decision, it ruled the TSA had broad authority to maintain security and safety during emergency situations, similar to the pandemic of 2020 and 2021

Back in April, the TSA scrapped its mask mandate, after a Florida-based federal judge ruled — in a separate case — the mask mandate had exceeded the agency's authority, when dealing with the public.

For that case, Tampa-based U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, who was nominated by President Donald Trump in 2020, determined the mask mandate on public transportation to be unlawful, overturning a Biden administration effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Judge Mizelle also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) improperly failed to justify its decision, and also did not follow proper rulemaking.

According to Bloomberg News, the Supreme Court's most recent standing order represents a "defeat for Jonathan Corbett, a California lawyer and self-described frequent flier who sued to challenge the mask mandate."

Corbett had reportedly asked the Supreme Court to either take up his appeal or declare the case "legally moot "and eradicate the D.C. Circuit opinion — so it could not serve as a precedent.

President Joe Biden made the transportation mask mandate a priority on his first day in office (January 2021), issuing an executive order which required masks with public planes, trains, intercity buses, and other forms of transportation.

The mask mandate also included people walking inside public airports and terminals.

Prior to the current "stay" decision, the Biden administration had urged the Supreme Court to keep the D.C. Circuit's opinion, as precedent.

As Newsmax chronicled in late September, the Canadian government dropped its mask mandates for public transportation, after citing the large number of Canadian citizens who "rolled up their sleeves and got vaccinated."

Government officials also confirmed Canada would eliminate its masking requirement for vaccinated people entering the country after Oct. 1.

Unvaccinated foreign travelers who enter Canada, however, are still subject to mandatory arrival tests and a 14-day quarantine.