Federal judge rules against Biden mask and vax mandates for Texas Head Start programs

Among the several pandemic-related mandates issued by President Joe Biden was a new rule issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requiring vaccination for all staff and teachers and masks at all times for all adults and children enrolled in the Head Start preschool program.

The state of Texas and a Texas school district sued, and a federal judge just ruled in their favor to issue a preliminary injunction blocking the HHS rule from being implemented or enforced in the state, the Washington Examiner reported.

Texas had sought a nationwide injunction on the HHS rule, but the judge deferred to recent decisions at the circuit court level in opposition to such broad injunctions and instead narrowly applied his ruling to the single state that had brought the challenge.

How wrong is this new rule?

In a 56-page ruling issued Friday, U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix cited several different factors that resulted in his deciding the preliminary matter in favor of Texas and not the federal government.

First, the judge determined that HHS had likely exceeded its statutory authority in that Congress had never granted it the power to impose mask or vaccine mandates on the federal grant-funded but locally operated Head Start programs.

Second, he found that HHS had likely violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) in multiple ways, including failing to consult with all stakeholders, bypassing the normal “notice-and-comment” period before formalizing the rule, as well as that the rule was likely “arbitrary and capricious” in that it was “unreasonably overbroad without a reasonable explanation,” and imposed a “one-size-fits-all approach with no end date.”

Finally, Judge Hendrix determined that both Texas and the school district would suffer “irreparable harm” if the HHS rule were fully implemented and enforced.

For the district, it stood to either lose out on the federal grant funding or suffer the loss of teachers, staff, and students, while Texas also stood to suffer from a loss of revenue and the subversion of its sovereign authority by the overreaching federal government.

Gov. Abbott celebrates

The Examiner noted that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) celebrated the ruling in his state’s favor with a tweet posted Friday evening that contained a screenshot of Judge Hendrix’s summary opinion.

“BREAKING: Texas just beat Biden again. Another of Biden’s vaccine & mask mandates was just halted by a federal judge in Texas,” Abbott wrote. “The Court writes: ‘It is undisputed that an agency cannot act without Congressional authorization.’ That would apply to all of Biden’s orders.”

The Examiner further pointed out that this ruling was on a preliminary matter and the actual merits of the case must still be argued. In the meantime, it is likely that the administration will appeal theruling, so the fight against the federal mask and vaccine mandate for Head Start programs will undoubtedly continue.

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