Federal judge shoots down Biden’s mask mandate for Head Start programs

President Joe Biden suffered another major loss in federal court.

Fox News reports that a judge has put a stop to the COVID-related restrictions Biden imposed on children in Head Start programs that receive federal funding. 

The rules

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), “Head Start programs promote the school readiness of infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children from low-income families.”

Biden’s administration first announced in November 2021 a rule requiring children in the programs who are ages and 2 and up to wear face masks to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The rule also requires parents to don masks when dropping off or picking up their children.

The rules also forced Head Start program staff, including contractors and volunteers, to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of January.

The backlash

Some 26 states have taken the Biden administration to court over COVID-related mandates like this one. This time around, it was Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) who filed suit in the Northern District of Texas. In a Dec. 10 filing, the Texas AG argued that the White House’s mandates were illegal.

“These unconstitutional mandates have no place in our country, and they are not welcomed here in Texas,” Paxton said in a statement. “The federal government does not have the ability to make health decisions for hard-working Americans.”

The court’s decision

In a ruling last week, Judge James “Wesley” Hendrix agreed.

“The agency’s rule requires Head Start staff to be vaccinated and near-universal masking of children and adults,” the court’s opinion read, according to Fox. “It is undisputed that an agency cannot act without congressional authorization. Thus, the question here is whether Congress authorized HHS to impose these requirements.”

Paxton, for his part, celebrated the victory.

“This is a win for the children of Texas for sure, given that parents should be making these decisions, not the Biden administration,” he told Fox.

Paxton went on to express his hope that the Biden administration will now “lay down their sword and stop jabbing at parents and kids and just let this thing stand.” But as the AG noted, that seems increasingly unlikely.

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