Justice Clarence Thomas shut down an appeal to the Supreme Court challenging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mandate requiring masks on public transportation.
In an order handed down Tuesday evening, Thomas rejected the request for an injunction without referring the case to the rest of the court. Thomas’s decision came a week after Lucas Wall, a frequent flyer from Washington, D.C., asked the court to halt the mandate in a complaint leveled against the CDC, President Joe Biden, and a slew of other federal agencies.
After Thomas rejected his case, Wall acknowledged that the appeal was a “long shot,” especially since he is still awaiting a trial before a district court in Orlando, Florida.
“Of course it’s still disappointing Justice Thomas did not take a more in-depth look at the illegal and unconstitutional mask requirement,” Wall said.
Wall brought the case forward after he was ejected from the Orlando International Airport in early June for not wearing a mask. In his complaint, he claimed that a generalized anxiety disorder made it impossible for him to follow the “improper, illegal, and unconstitutional” mandate. Most states at that point had already removed mask mandates, if they had them in the first place.
When Wall appealed to the Supreme Court, he said that a narrow decision in favor of the CDC’s eviction moratorium, which is set to expire at the end of July, signaled that the justices were open to striking down pandemic-era orders.
And even though Thomas shut down his appeal, Wall said he still believes he will win his case against the agency eventually.
“For now, the federal government has prevailed in muzzling all travelers and banning tens of millions of Americans including myself who can’t tolerate having their face covered from using any form of public transportation,” he said.
Fully vaccinated Americans can now ditch their masks in outdoor transit hubs and on outdoor public transportation, the Centers for Disease Control said in updated guidance issued Thursday.
The new recommendations apply to any outdoor transportation areas, like outside an airport or a bus stop, as well as outdoor areas of public transportation, like the deck of a ferry or an open-air trolley.
Unvaccinated travelers should still continue to wear their masks in all public transportation-related areas, indoors and outdoors, the agency noted.
“CDC will continue to evaluate the requirements of its Order and determine whether additional changes may be warranted,” the agency wrote. “While those who are fully vaccinated may resume many activities without wearing a mask, the travel environment presents a unique set of circumstances based on the number and close interaction of travelers (both vaccinated and unvaccinated).”
When it comes to vaccine progress, 64% of Americans 18 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 53.4% are considered fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
So far,ABC News reported 13 states have vaccinated at least 70% of their adult populations with at least one dose: Pennsylvania, Vermont, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Washington, Maryland, and California.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.