Update: The Justice Department announced in a statement that it will appeal Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle’s ruling overturning the public transportation mask mandate if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes the requirement is still necessary. DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley said the order was a “valid exercise of the authority Congress has given CDC” and an “important authority the Department will continue to work to preserve.”
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said Tuesday the Biden administration will likely appeal a decision by a federal judge ending the public transportation mask mandate.
“We will respect the ruling, but as I say: I’ll respect the ruling, but I’ll follow the science,” Becerra said at a news conference with Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak.
“We are right now in the process of deciding, and we likely will appeal that ruling. Stay tuned,” he added.
On Monday, federal district court Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle from Tampa, Florida, voided the national mask mandate.
Biden’s HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra says the Biden administration will “likely” appeal the federal ruling striking down Biden’s mask mandate.
Earlier today, Biden said it was “up to [individuals]” to decide for themselves. pic.twitter.com/OnCNgdsKOj
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) April 19, 2022
“Because our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends, the court declares unlawful and vacates the mask mandate,” Mizelle, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, wrote in her order, The Associated Press reported.
Earlier in the day while traveling in New Hampshire, President Joe Biden was asked if people should wear masks on a plane.
“That’s up to them,” he responded.
Reporter: “Mr. President, should people continue to wear masks on planes?”
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) April 19, 2022
A reporter followed up, questioning whether the Department of Justice would appeal Mizelle’s ruling.
“I haven’t spoken to the CDC yet,” Biden answered.
Pressed later on his trip about the possibility of appealing, the president said, “I haven’t gotten any brief from my CDC. I don’t know. We’re following the science.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki offered a similar response to reporters Tuesday afternoon.
“Agencies are reviewing … next steps, including the Department of Justice,” she said. “Traditionally following a court decision, that can take a couple of days.”
“We’ve said from the start that our COVID response should be guided by the science and data and by experts,” Psaki added.
The Transportation Security Administration announced in a Monday statement it would not be enforcing the mask mandate.
“Due to today’s court ruling, effective immediately,” the agency said, “TSA will no longer enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs.”