Chief Justice Roberts Dismisses Emergency Challenge to Air Travel Mask Mandate

A masked Chief Justice John Roberts / Getty Images
December 10, 2021

Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday denied an emergency challenge to the Biden administration's mask mandate for air travel.

The case concerns plaintiffs who say they cannot wear masks for medical reasons. Florida resident Michael Seklecki says he and his four-year-old have disabilities that have kept them from flying because of the mask mandate, and they're joined in the suit against the Transportation Security Administration by Lucas Wall, a Washington, D.C., man.

While the plaintiffs' attempt to immediately block the mandate failed following Roberts's ruling, their challenge is ongoing in lower courts.

The Biden administration has argued in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that the plaintiffs' case is unfounded, according to the New York Times, because they have "not pursued an available procedure for obtaining medical exemptions" and because Congress authorized the TSA to establish mask mandates.

The plaintiffs have disputed the government's claims, though, saying they have made requests for mask exemptions from airlines and have been denied.

President Joe Biden issued the federal mask mandate for travel in the early days of his administration, and this month he extended the mandate through March 18.

Courts have blocked some of the administration's coronavirus mandates. A federal court on Wednesday temporarily halted Biden's vaccine mandate for federal contractors.