Biden Administration May Appeal Mask Mandate Ruling

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WASHINGTON — The Biden administration announced on Tuesday that it intends to appeal a Florida judge’s ruling that struck down a federal mask requirement on airplanes, trains, buses and other public transportation — but only if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decides that extending the measure is necessary.

The announcement from the Department of Justice came after a day of back and forth inside the White House, as administration officials faced a legal and political quandary: whether to let the judge’s ruling stand or to fight it, knowing that an appeal could result in a higher court, perhaps the Supreme Court, ruling against the administration and setting a lasting precedent that could undercut the C.D.C.’s authority.

In the end, the administration charted a careful course, publicly objecting to Monday’s ruling but putting off a final decision about whether to contest it. The Justice Department and the C.D.C. “disagree with the district court’s decision and will appeal, subject to C.D.C.’s conclusion that the order remains necessary for public health,” the department said in a statement.

“You are in the position of having two horrible choices,” said Lawrence O. Gostin, an expert in public health law at Georgetown University. “One choice is to risk forever taking away C.D.C.’s powers if this goes up to the 11th Circuit and ultimately the Supreme Court.