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Airline Mask Requirement Stays in Place, Supreme Court Rules

July 13, 2021, 10:56 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request to undo the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mask requirement for public transportation, including airline travel.

Justice Clarence Thomas on Tuesday denied Lucas Wall’s calls to lift the requirement for his upcoming international travel. Wall said he suffers from generalized anxiety, including panic attacks when he covers his face.

Earlier in the pandemic, the Supreme Court declined several requests to lift Covid restrictions. That changed after Amy Coney Barrett joined the court and provided a fifth vote to rescind limits that interfered with religious rights.

Wall sought to piggyback on the religion-based rulings, asking the court “to also hold that other constitutional rights—including the freedom to travel, to due process, and states’ rights under the 10th Amendment— can’t be suspended” by the government due to Covid.

Federal law for now requires people on airlines and other public transportation to wear masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus. Tension between passengers and cabin crews have boiled over on some flights over mask compliance. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently issued proposed fines against passengers for unruly behavior, including refusing to wear masks.

The case is Wall v. CDC, U.S., No. 21A2.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at; John Crawley at