The Supreme Court refused to overturn a lower court ruling upholding the broad power of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to require masks onboard planes, trains, and other modes of public transport.
TSA Authority To Issue Mask Mandate On Planes Is Left In Place By Supreme Court
Jonathan Corbett, a California lawyer and frequent flyer, had sued the TSA during the pandemic, asking the federal court system to overturn the mask mandate. Corbett asserted that the mandate went beyond the agency’s statutory authority and therefore without specific Congressional authorization, the agency had no right to impose such a broad mandate.
The case made its way up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which found no merit in Corbett’s claim. The court instead concluded that the TSA’s broad power to maintain security in the transportation system included the right to levy masks.
Corbett appealed to the Supreme Court, asking the Court to overturn the D.C. Circuit’s “broad expansion of agency authority.” But yesterday the Supreme Court denied him cert, meaning it refused to hear the case. Procedurally, that means the lower court ruling stands.
This has not been the first time the Supreme Court has refused to overturn the mask mandate. In 2021, the Court denied an emergency motion to set aside the federal mask mandate on airplanes without comment.
That case centered on Florida man named Lucas Wall who claimed an anxiety disorder prevented him from wearing a mask.
A California lawyer has failed in his quest to declare the TSA has no power to require masks on public transport during a period of emergency. While the mask mandate was suspended in April, this decision leaves in place a holding that the agency maintains that authority.