Court Battles

Chief Justice Roberts rejects bid to block mask mandate on airplanes

Chief Justice John Roberts is seen during a photo op with Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett after Barrett’s investiture ceremony at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Friday, October 1, 2021.
Greg Nash

Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday rejected a request to block a federal mask mandate for air travel. 

The emergency request was filed by a Florida man on behalf of himself and his 4-year-old autistic son, who both claim to be medically incapable of wearing masks for extended periods, according to court papers.

They were joined by another man, Lucas Wall, who claims he is “stranded at his mother’s residence” in Florida because the federal mask mandate bars him from flying. Wall, who says he is unable to wear a mask due to an anxiety disorder, posted a YouTube video of his failed effort to board a flight without a mask and created a GoFundMe page to raise money off his multiple lawsuits targeting the public health measure.   

Roberts, who handles emergency requests from Washington, D.C., where the case arose, denied the request without comment — and without referring the matter to the other justices, a sign that he thought the claim lacked legal merit.

Under an executive order signed by President Biden, the Transportation Security Administration requires passengers on airplanes and other public transportation to wear masks to reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 790,000 in the U.S.

Tags Chief Justice COVID-19 Joe Biden mask mandates Supreme Court travel

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