The Biden administration on Tuesday argued that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should have the authority to issue an immediate mask mandate on travelers.
The Department of Justice had appealed a federal judge’s ruling in April that said the CDC did not have the legal authority to issue a mask mandate, according to Reuters.
Noting that the crux of the issue was whether the CDC could impose the mandate without a public comment period, Justice Department attorney Brian Springer said action without waiting to hear from the public was essential “to prevent the possible infections and deaths that could result if people didn’t do the simple thing of just putting on a mask while they were traveling.”
“In those circumstances, the CDC had good cause to issue this order, particularly when the CDC detailed the reasons why in this particular environment, namely in the transportation sector and in transportation settings, COVID had a specific tendency to spread among people who are traveling together because they’re standing together in lines and sitting together on conveyances,” Springer said, according to the Epoch Times.
Lawyer Brant C. Hadaway representing five people who challenged the mandate, opposed that claim, according to Reuters.
“This is not about an urgent matter of public health,” Hadaway said in court.
Republican lawmakers said the mandate should not return.
WHY is the Biden administration arguing in federal court to FORCE masks back on to every commercial flight? This administration is completely out of touch with reality. Masks on planes do NOTHING! Totally useless!!
— Ronny Jackson (@RonnyJacksonTX) January 17, 2023
Joe Biden has said that the pandemic is over.
Yet his administration is still arguing in court to reinstate the mask mandate.
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) January 17, 2023
If you want to wear a mask on a plane, no one’s stopping you. But we’re not going back to mandates. Period. https://t.co/xXOtjpppnz
— Rep. Brian Mast (@RepBrianMast) January 17, 2023
In a comment reported by the Washington Examiner, an attorney for the Health Freedom Defense Fund said, “This appeal is not about an urgent matter of public health. If the mask order had been such an urgent matter of public health, you would have expected CDC to have applied for a stay to the district court’s ruling.”
“CDC promulgated a rule of unprecedented scope. And for the first time claiming authority to directly govern the lives of every member of the traveling public without bothering to explain its statutory authority,” the attorney said.
Should mask mandates on public transportation be allowed if the pandemic worsens?
Yes: 4% (4 Votes)
No: 96% (91 Votes)
U.S. Circuit Judge Andrew Brasher said he was not sold on the CDC’s argument that stalling the mandate “would be impactable and contrary to the public’s health” as a reason to skip public comment, according to Courthouse News.
The Washington Examiner quoted an attorney for the Justice Department as arguing that the next emergency will require the CDC to have the ability to act immediately.
“You can imagine the next pandemic, there was an outbreak of measles or SARS and the CDC would want to and need to take swift action in order to control such a pandemic in the future. I think the important thing here is that the potential collateral estoppel effect of the district court’s ruling could tie up future CDC actions,” the Justice Department lawyer said.
“The Biden administration is trying to paper over an illegal, sweeping mandate on Americans that is full of massive legal and scientific holes. That a federal agency should be able to just usurp the power of Congress, and violate fundamental individual rights is not only at odds with the law — it defies basic common sense,” Health Freedom Defense Fund founder and President Leslie Manookian said in a statement, according to Fox News.
Fox News had noted that in September, Biden had said while strolling through the Detroit Auto Show, ” If you notice, no one’s wearing a mask, everybody seems to be in pretty good shape,”
It is not known when the court will issue a decision.
Reuters noted that the European Union has recommended face masks for passengers flying from China to its member nations.