Federal Judge Blocks Biden Administration’s Head Start Vaccine Mandate in Texas
From The The Reputable Epoch Times By January 1, 2022
Mask mandate also blocked.
President Joe Biden’s administration was ordered late Friday to stop mask and vaccine mandates for workers and volunteers of the Head Start program in Texas.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) likely acted without congressional authorization when it imposed the mandates in response to the president’s push to increase COVID-19 vaccinations, U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix, a Trump nominee, said in a 56-page ruling.
HHS’ Nov. 30 interim final rule said all workers and some volunteers and contractors must get a COVID-19 vaccine and that all volunteers and workers, and children 2 or older, must wear masks. The deadline for vaccination compliance was listed as Jan. 31, 2022, while the masking piece took effect immediately.
The agency said it was given the authority to implement such rules in the Head Start Act, specifically citing how the law lets the health secretary “modify, as necessary, program performance standards by regulation applicable to Head Start agencies and programs under this subchapter, including (C) administrative and financial management standards; (D) standards relating to the condition and location of facilities (including indoor air quality assessment standards, where appropriate) … [and] (E) such other standards as the Secretary finds to be appropriate.”
But the standards clearly do not include vaccine or mask mandates, the state of Texas argued in its brief to the court in support of a filing for a preliminary injunction.
The act “does not authorize defendants to mandate an invasive, permanent medical treatment for or mask mandates for Head Start program children, staff, contractors, and volunteers,” Texas lawyers said. “Notably, it does not mention vaccinations or masking requirements at all.”
Head Start is a federal grant program that’s aimed at helping young children in poor households get ready for school. Approximately 864,289 children are enrolled in Head Start.
Congress may not have mentioned vaccinations or masking, but did say the health secretary can implement health-related standards, Biden administration lawyers said in an opposition motion earlier this week.
Hendrix didn’t agree, siding with Texas.
The judge referred to how government lawyers admitted during a recent hearing that vaccine and mask mandates are not “health services” and that Head Start had never mandated a medical procedure as a precondition for current or prospective workers.