Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday dismissed a request that the Supreme Court hear an emergency challenge to the federal mask mandate for air travel amid a legal battle in lower courts.
A lawsuit filed by Florida resident Michael Seklecki against the Transportation Security Administration on behalf of himself and his 4-year-old autistic son claimed they are medically unable to wear masks for extended periods of time, court records show. Roberts, who handles emergency requests from Washington, D.C., where the case arose, did not comment on his ruling to dismiss the case. He also did not request a response to an emergency relief application or refer the matter to the other eight justices, signaling he thought the claim lacked legal standing.
Another plaintiff, Lucas Wall, joined the case and claimed he was “stranded” at a family member’s home in Florida because the mask mandate blocked him from boarding a flight. Wall created a GoFundMe aimed at raising money for his legal battle against the health measure and posted a video online of his failed effort to board a flight without a mask, attempting to get through TSA security using a vaccine card.
Wall, who has a generalized anxiety disorder, told TSA agents that he could not wear a mask without risking a panic attack.
“I’m not going to be able to travel or be in airports for hours at a time just sitting around and wearing a mask that restricts my breathing so much and makes me uncomfortable,” he told the Washington Examiner in June.
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has not ruled on the merits of Seklecki’s case. The court refused to block the mandate last month as the appeal moved forward.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, TSA has extended its mask mandate when data suggest virus variants are surging across the country.
Unless the order is renewed, the order requiring masks on buses, planes, and trains is set to expire on March 18, according to the TSA.