Chief Justice Rejects Request to Block Travel Mask Mandate

Ralph Ellis

December 10, 2021

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U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts has turned down a request to block the federal rule requiring face masks on airplanes while the case works its way through the federal system.

Roberts didn't comment in dismissing an emergency request by Michael Seklecki of Florida, who sued the Transportation Security Administration on behalf of himself and his 4-year-old son. 

In the emergency request, Seklecki said he has to go with his son on flights to Massachusetts for medical care, but the child "can't wear a mask." Seklecki said that he also "medically can't tolerate wearing a face covering."

Lucas Wall of Washington, DC, joined the request, saying he's been "stranded at his mother's house in The Villages, Florida, since early June because" the TSA won't let him fly without a mask. Wall also says he can't cover his face for medical reasons.

Roberts didn't refer the case to the full Supreme Court, showing that he "viewed the legal question in the case as insubstantial," The New York Times reported.

The federal government, in a brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, said the challengers hadn't pursued available exemptions to the mask rule, the Times said.

The TSA introduced the face mask requirement last January and has extended it to March 18, 2022. The rule requires travelers to wear face masks "at airports, onboard commercial aircraft, on over-the-road buses, and on commuter bus and rail systems," according to a TSA news release.

SOURCES:

U.S. Supreme Court, emergency application for stay relief requested by Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021: "Lucas Wall & Michael Seklecki, on behalf of himself and his minor child M.S., applicants, v. Transportation Security Administration, respondent."

The New York Times: "Chief Justice Roberts refuses to block the mask mandate for air travel in the U.S."

Transportation Security Administration: "TSA extends face mask requirement through March 18, 2022."

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