A federal judge has struck down a Biden administration mandate that required teachers and children in public preschools to wear masks and be vaccinated.
The permanent injunction was issued by U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty and means Head Start programs cannot force adults or children in daycare centers to wear face masks or receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
The ruling applies to the 24 states named as plaintiffs: Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
“Other than requiring the vaccination of pets, the Agency Defendants have never mandated specific medical treatment,” Judge Doughty wrote. “By mandating COVID-19 vaccines and/or masks for 2- to 4-year-old children, Agency Defendants veered outside of the authority for which Head Start was created.”
Judge Doughty also said that administrative, bureaucratic agencies cannot exercise authority not explicitly granted to them by Congress.
“There are only three branches of government created by the United States Constitution. Government agencies are not one of those branches,” he wrote. “If government agencies such as the Defendants in this case are allowed to usurp the authority they have, the balance of powers in the United States Constitution would be irrelevant.”
He also stated:
“This Court finds the balance of equities and the public interest favors the issuance of a permanent injunction. The public interest is served by maintaining the constitutional structure and maintaining the liberty of individuals who do not want to take the COVID-19 vaccine. This interest outweighs Agency Defendants’ interests. The public has a liberty interest in not being required to take a vaccine or be fired from their jobs. The public interest must be taken into account before allowing Agency Defendants to mandate vaccines. Although vaccines arguably serve the public interest, the liberty interests of individuals mandated to take the COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any interest generated by the mandatory administration of vaccines.”
On Nov. 30, 2021, the Office of Head Start (OHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a rule mandating universal masking and requiring all staff, contractors, and volunteers to be vaccinated within 60 days.
Individuals granted exemptions to vaccination would be subject to weekly testing.
Head Start teachers Sandy Brick of Louisiana, and Jessica Trenn, of Ohio, filed a lawsuit, naming President Joe Biden, OHS, ACF, HHS, and several agency heads as defendants.
Brick and Trenn were represented in court by the national law firm Liberty Justice Center.
“Although President Biden recently declared that the ‘pandemic is over,’ the fight to restore Americans’ individual liberties is not,” Daniel Suhr, managing attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, said in a press release. “We will continue to fight for teachers like Sandy and the low-income students they serve until every illegal and unjustified mandate is wiped from the books. Today’s decision is a significant step toward undoing the injustice perpetrated against everyday Americans throughout the COVID-19 crisis.”