Slate | April 25, 2022
Last week, Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle handed down a sweeping 59-page opinion in which she struck down the Biden administration’s requirement that passengers wear masks on airplanes, trains, and similar methods of transportation. Mizelle reasoned, among other things, that the word “sanitation” in the Public Health Service Act, a sprawling 1944 law that grants the federal government powers to respond to public health emergencies, precluded the government from halting the spread of disease unless something specific was being cleaned. Lawrence O. Gostin, university professor and director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, joined Amicus to discuss Mizelle’s reading of the statute, as well as some other broad claims she made about the scope of personal liberty. Our conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.