Biden administration asks court to let it impose mask mandates on air travel

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The Biden administration asked an appeals court to permit the restoration of the federal government’s mask mandate on the nation’s airlines.

In a filing with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Justice Department asked the panel to overturn a district court judge’s April ruling that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not have the authority to impose the mandate.

Justice Department said the CDC order was “within” the agency’s legal authority, though the filing did not directly say the CDC would again force Americans to wear masks on airplanes, buses, taxis, ride-share services and transit terminals.

Hours after U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball’s April 18 order struck down the mandate, the Biden administration said it would no longer enforce it.

Administration spokespeople have often said then, however, that it might appeal Judge Kimball’s decision in order to preserve the CDC’s power as a matter of law.

The CDC did not immediately respond to a query from Reuters news agency on whether the mask order would return if the appeals court agreed Judge Kimball had overreached.

“None of the district court’s quarrels with the CDC order comes close to showing that the CDC has acted outside the ‘zone of reasonableness,’” the Justice Department wrote.

DOJ told the appeals court, in a filing made just hours before the appeals court’s deadline that CDC findings in early 2021, when the order was first imposed, provided “ample support for the agency’s determination that there was good cause to make the order effective without delay.”

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