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Justice Department Appeals to Reinstate Transportation Mask Mandate

WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that it had asked the Justice Department to appeal a federal court ruling striking down its requirement for masking on planes, trains, buses and other modes of transportation, after concluding that “an order requiring masking in the indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for the public health.”

The announcement came a day after the Biden administration said it intended to appeal the ruling from a Florida judge — but only if the C.D.C. decided that the mask mandate was still necessary.

“C.D.C. believes this is a lawful order, well within C.D.C.’s legal authority to protect public health,” the agency said in a statement, adding that it “continues to recommend that people wear masks in all indoor public transportation settings.”

The Department of Justice also announced, through its spokesman on Twitter, that it had filed a notice of appeal. But the announcements do not change the status of the mask mandate, which has been lifted by the Transportation Security Administration and cannot legally be enforced unless the administration wins a stay of the lower court order, or wins the appeal.

An appeal is potentially risky for the C.D.C. The ruling by a Federal District Court judge, Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, an appointee of former President Donald J. Trump, does not set a legal precedent. But should an appeals court, or the Supreme Court, uphold her decision, it could permanently constrain the C.D.C.’s authority.

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