The Biden Administration and federal agencies overstepped their authority when they mandated a Covid-19 vaccine for Head Start workers and masks for children participating in Head Start programs, according to a ruling from a U.S. District Court judge on Wednesday.
Under a federal rule announced almost a year ago, Head Start centers must require vaccines for staff and masks for anyone 2 years or older, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the program
“The Court finds the Agency Defendants have exceeded their authority by implementing the Head Start Mandate because Congress only gave Agency Defendants the power to “modify” Head Start performance standards. The Head Start Mandate is not a modification,” states the 27-page ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Terry A. Doughty for the Western District of Louisiana.
Today’s ruling orders a permanent injunction against the Head Start mandate in Alaska and in 23 other states.
In December 2021, Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor signed onto the lawsuit. “This is a pivotal decision in the pandemic’s legal disagreements over vaccines and masks for nearly half the nation,” said Taylor. “The District Court lays out that the liberty interests of individuals who would be forced to take the COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any interest generated by the mandatory administration of vaccines. And the court protects the rights of States to protect their citizens from such overreach, as Alaska has been insisting on doing.”
On page 21 of the ruling, it states, “The Court finds that the Head Start Mandate, which imposes its requirements upon 273,600 Head Start staff, 864,000 children and approximately 1,000,000 volunteers, involves an agency decision of vast economic and political significance. Congress has not clearly spoken to grant Agency Defendants the authority to impose the Head Start Mandate. Therefore, the Head Start Mandate violates the major questions doctrine.”
Other court cases also challenge the mandate. The District Court ruled, “This Permanent Injunction order shall remain in effect pending the final resolution of this case, or until further orders from this Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, or the Supreme Court of the United States.
Until today’s ruling, the school year started with the Covid restrictions for Head Start, as mandated by the Biden Administration. Children older than 2 who were part of the program were required to wear masks, even while people in the rest of society are no longer wearing them.
For much of the country, this school year started with Covid restrictions in the past: No more masking, vaccine mandates, social distancing requirements or testing regulations. The federally funded preschool program serves low-income families, and the ruling that governed these children were much harsher than the general CDC recommendation to wear masks in areas of high transmission of the Covid-29 virus.
The Biden Administration introduced it as an interim final rule in 2021, drawing immediate condemnation from Alaska and several states. Twenty-four states, including Alaska, sued the federal government for the lawless mandates.