By Alice Seeley

On May 31, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a formal appeal and brief with the 11th Circuit Court to overturn last month’s decision by a federal judge declaring the mandate requiring masks on airplanes and other public transportation unlawful.

In the appeal, the Justice Department argued that “none of the district court’s quarrels with the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] order comes close to showing that the CDC has acted outside the zone of reasonableness,” which is contrary to what U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle contended.

The appeal contended that the mask mandate issued by the CDC “falls easily within the CDC’s statutory authority.” The appeal argued that the district court’s ruling regarding the overturning of the mask mandate should not have been interpreted as nationwide relief and asked the Court of Appeals to reinstate the mask mandate.

In response to the Justice Department’s appeal, the Health Freedom Defense Fund, the nonprofit legal organization that filed the lawsuit which overturned the mask mandate, stated, “we are confident that the Court of Appeals will concur that the travel mask mandate lacked statutory authority and sound science, and should be invalidated.”

The CDC still recommends people wear masks on public transit and has not made a public statement on whether it would reinstate the requirement if the ruling were overturned. However, the Biden administration said it would appeal Judge Mizelle’s ruling if the CDC thought the mask mandate was still needed.