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Justice Department will appeal mask mandate ruling, if CDC says it's needed

The Department of Justice on Tuesday said it will appeal a judge's ruling blocking a federal mask requirement on public transportation if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determines such a mandate is necessary to protect public health.

In a statement, DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley said the department "continues to believe that the order requiring masking in the transportation corridor is a valid exercise of the authority Congress has given CDC to protect the public health. That is an important authority the department will continue to work to preserve."

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, a Trump appointee, struck down the mask mandate, which had recently been extended through May 3. Almost immediately, several major airlines, including Southwest and Delta, said masks will be optional for passengers, but in Philadelphia and New York, there are still local mandates, meaning face coverings have to be worn in airports.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday the Biden administration has "said from the start that our response should be guided by the science and data and by experts. Public health decisions shouldn't be made by the courts; they should be made by public health experts." President Biden was also asked if he thinks Americans should keep wearing masks, and he responded it's "up to them."