The Biden administration’s COVID agenda just suffered a legal blow.
The Hill reports that a judge has struck down the COVID mandate that President Joe Biden had issues for Head Start child care facilities.
It was back in November 2021 that the mandate was issued by the Office of Head Start, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Administration for Children and Families.
The mandate has two main requirements. One is that adult staff members working at Head Start facilities have to either get vaccinated against the coronavirus or, if exempt, undergo weekly testing. And, the other requirement is that, at these Head Start facilities, all staff members and all children ages two and older have to wear facemasks.
A lawsuit challenging the mandate was promptly filed in court by a group of Head Start teachers from facilities across the country.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty made a ruling in the case, issuing a permanent injunction. This essentially will stop the Biden administration from enforcing the vaccine and mask mandate for Head Start facilities.
Doughty agreed with the teachers that, if the mandate is allowed to stand, they would face a “substantial threat of irreparable injury.”
“The public has a liberty interest in not being required to take a vaccine or be fired from their jobs,” Doughty wrote in his decision. “The public interest must be taken into account before allowing Agency Defendants to mandate vaccines.”
Doughty’s decision will apply to 24 states, including Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
It is not exactly clear how the Biden administration is going to respond to Doughty’s decision. It is not clear, for example, whether the HHS will seek an appeal.
The fact is that this Head Start mandate was one of the only federal mask mandates still in existence. And, HHS has recently announced that it would be dropping the mandate.
So, the Biden administration might just let Doughty’s decision stand by deciding not to seek an appeal. We’ll see.