Federal judge strikes down COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates for Head Start students, teachers
The ruling permanently blocks the administration from enforcing the mandate.
A federal judge handed down the latest rebuke of the Biden administration by striking down the federal COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates for teachers and students in the Head Start program.
Judge Terry A. Doughty, on the bench of a U.S. District Court in Louisiana, on Wednesday ruled the federal government cannot require Head Start program teachers, staff and volunteers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, nor can it require adults or students to wear masks. His order “permanently enjoins the vaccine and mask mandate in 24 states,” a release from the Liberty Justice Center says, and impacts 280,000 teachers, staff and volunteers.
In his ruling, he wrote, “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 considered 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.”
The government has an option to appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Western District; the same court blocked the government’s vaccine mandate for private businesses, the release says.
The Liberty Justice Center and the Louisiana-based Pelican Institute for Public Policy represented Brick.
“Although President Biden recently declared that the ‘pandemic is over,’ the fight to restore Americans’ individual liberties is not,” Daniel Suhr said in the release. He’s managing attorney at the Liberty Justice Center. “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.”
Also in the release, Sarah Harbison, general counsel at the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, said, “Louisiana teacher Sandy Brick has been serving her students through adversity and uncertainty the last two years. Today, this decision vindicates her right to teach without sacrificing her freedom.”
The mandate was part of a bigger package President Joe Biden unveiled on Sept. 9, 2021.
States included are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.