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U.S. Supreme Court leaves mask mandate intact for air travelers

By Rich Klein
U.S. Supreme Court leaves mask mandate intact for air travelers
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is the only justice on the court who refuses to wear a mask. File Pool Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday left in place a federal mask mandate for air travel rejecting without comment an emergency application to block the policy.

The mandate, put in place via executive order by President Joe Biden when he took office last January, was scheduled to expire Tuesday. However, it was extended through March due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

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The court's decision was based on an emergency application filed by a father on behalf of himself and his autistic son, alleging that he was unable to wear masks for extended periods of time.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, the only Supreme Court justice who refuses to wear a mask during court proceedings, referred the case to the full court. The high court declined to hear the case (Wall, Lucas, ET AL. V. TSA) and made no comment.

It was the latest in a series of pandemic-related cases before the court.

On Thursday, the court by a 6-3 vote, blocked Biden's COVID-19 vaccine or testing mandate for large private corporations, but allowed a vaccine requirement for healthcare workers at facilities that receive federal money.

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Since the pandemic began in early 2020, there have been multiple incidents of passengers refusing to wear masks and becoming disruptive and/or violent when asked to do so by flight attendants.

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