Republican senators drafted a letter to the Department of Justice on Tuesday to express “strong opposition” to a federal no-fly list of passengers considered unruly due to their refusal to wear face masks in-flight.
The senators who signed onto the letter include Republican Sens. Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, and Ted Cruz.
The letter comes after Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian requested that the Justice Department create the no-fly list in light of increasing incidents.
The senators’ response reads, “The creation of this list by DOJ would result in a severe restriction on the ability of citizens to fully exercise their constitutional right to engage in interstate transportation. It also raises serious concerns about future unrelated uses and potential expansions of the list based on political pressures.”
“Unruly” guests on flights saw a spike in 2021, with nearly 5,981 cases according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Out of those nearly 6,000 cases, 4,290 were about mask issues.
The GOP senators argued that the airlines have the right to create their own no-fly lists, but the federal government has no authority to do so. Additionally, Delta has asked the other U.S. airlines to share their lists of anti-mask passengers with them so no they could block those individuals as well.
Delta currently has nearly 2,000 people on their no-fly list, and out of those cases, 1,000 were referred to the Transportation and Security Administration to press penalties.
“Delta welcomes the interest from Congress as U.S. airlines continue to grapple with an uptick in unruly passengers, putting the safety of airline employees and the flying public at risk,” a Delta spokesperson told ABC news. “At Delta, nothing is more important than ensuring a safe and secure travel experience for our customers and our people.”