While Americans have largely moved on from the COVID pandemic, the government has yet to yield the “emergency powers” it claimed in the name of “public health,” raising the possibility that restrictions could linger for years to come.
In a victory for the Biden administration, the Supreme Court has declined to take up a challenge to the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) power to impose mask mandates on public conveyances.
SCOTUS upholds TSA mask powers
Petitioner Jonathan Corbett, a frequent flier and California lawyer, wanted the Supreme Court to take up his appeal, or else declare the case moot and vacate a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit siding with the TSA.
The Biden administration urged the Supreme Court to preserve the D.C. Circuit’s precedent, which it did.
Corbett argued that the D.C. Circuit “eagerly granted new authority” to the TSA when it found the agency, created after 9/11 to counteract security threats like terrorism, could micromanage passengers in response to public health threats, too.
In asking the Supreme Court for relief, Corbett echoed the Supreme Court’s own reasoning in its decision to reject Biden’s draconian OSHA mandate that coerced millions of workers into taking the COVID shots on the pretext of “occupational safety.”
“In other words, a public health matter that affects the general public at all times, whether or not they are in the transportation system, is not a ‘transportation security’ matter just because it also happens while engaged in transportation,” Corbett wrote.
Mask theater forever?
President Biden imposed his sweeping mandate of muzzling Americans on public transportation on his very first day in office.
In April of this year, Biden had a setback when a Florida-based judge nominated by President Trump, Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, struck down the CDC’s travel mask mandate.
While the TSA is no longer enforcing its mandate, it hasn’t actually rescinded it, Corbett noted. Moreover, Biden has appealed Mizelle’s ruling, raising the prospect of the mandate returning in the future.
“Petitioner has reasonable fear that the mandate’s return is forthcoming,” Corbett wrote.
Post-9/11 airport security theater already made traveling a hassle. Will Americans now be subjected to mask-and-test theater indefinitely, too? The Supreme Court’s decision sends a worrying signal.