Coronavirus: Thread

grarpamp grarpamp at
Tue Nov 1 19:21:05 PDT 2022

Supreme Court Leaves TSA Mask Mandate Ruling in Place

The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal on Oct. 31, leaving in
place a federal appeals court ruling that allowed the Transportation
Security Administration (TSA) to require the wearing of masks on
airplanes, trains, and buses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the TSA abandoned its mask mandate in April, the decision
allows a Dec. 10, 2021, ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia Circuit to remain on the books as a legal
precedent that the government may rely upon in the future.

In a brief filed with the high court on Sept. 27, the Biden
administration urged the Supreme Court to reject the case.

U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar noted in the document that
the TSA had announced on April 13 that it would extend the mask
directives through May 3, 2022.

But days after the announcement, when a federal district judge in
Florida vacated the Centers for Disease Control’s order requiring
masking at transportation hubs and in airplanes, the TSA backed out of
its mask mandate extension.

The TSA mandate was allowed to expire on April 18.

The D.C. Circuit Court’s ruling was correct because it recognized TSA
was acting within its statutory authority and its actions were aimed
at addressing the threats to transportation posed by COVID-19, the
brief stated.

The high court refused to take up the petition filed in Corbett v. TSA
(court file 22-33), without explaining why.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson did not participate in the consideration
of the petition, but the court did not explain why she refrained from
doing so.

Frequent flyer Jonathan Corbett challenged the TSA’s January 2021
directives requiring that passengers wear masks.

Corbett argued that the agency’s authority under the federal Aviation
and Transportation Security Act was limited to developing policies and
directives aimed at guarding against violent attacks on transportation

The statute did not empower TSA to do things like require mask-wearing
to protect public health, he argued.

But the appeals court disagreed.

“The COVID-19 global pandemic poses one of the greatest threats to the
operational viability of the transportation system and the lives of
those on it seen in decades,” the circuit court ruled in an opinion
written by Judge Harry T. Edwards, who was appointed by then-President
Jimmy Carter in 1980. One judge on the three-judge panel dissented
from the ruling.

“TSA, which is tasked with maintaining transportation safety and
security, plainly has the authority to address such threats under” the
Aviation and Transportation Security Act.

Congress granted the TSA “broad authority” to analyze potential risks
to aviation and national security and respond to those risks and
conferred upon the agency “an expansive power to act in relation to
the transportation system during a national emergency.”

Given the language in the statute, “it cannot seriously be doubted
that Congress’ delegations of authority to TSA authorize the Mask
Directives issued to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

If Congress wanted to limit the reach of the TSA it could have done
so, but instead it “selected broad language in its mandate to the

More information about the cypherpunks mailing list