A Texas federal judge halted the U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS) program that required children as young as 2 years old to wear masks.
Judge James Wesley Hendrix of the Northern District of Texas ruled that the HHS lacked the authority to mandate masks and the COVID-19 vaccine for any Head Start program staff and volunteers. Under Hendrix’s ruling, the HHS cannot enforce either mandate nationwide in its Head Start program, a federal early education program for low income families with children as old as 5 years old.
“I’m proud to announce that the Biden Administration’s attempt to use the Head Start program to mask toddlers and force the vaccine on staff and volunteers has now been permanently defeated,” Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who filed the lawsuit against the HHS, said in a press release. “I have worked relentlessly to end Biden’s troubling policies of medical tyranny, especially his attempts to impose draconian interventions on our children, as well as his efforts to punish Americans who do not comply with his preferred medical treatments—many of which are arbitrary, ineffective and unjustified by the scientific evidence.”
In 2021, Paxton filed a lawsuit against the HHS alleging that the federal organization did not have the authority to impose such a mandate on the children, parents and staff involved in the program. A federal district judge granted Paxton a Texas-wide injunction against the program’s mandate in January 2022.
Because of the mask and COVID-19 mandates, Head Start directors saw a shortage in staff and students. Hendrix’s ruling prohibits such a mandate from being implemented in the future.
“The wisdom of Head Start’s rule is not before the Court—only its legality,” Hendrix’s opinion stated. “If the people, through Congress, wish to impose a vaccine mandate on Head Start programs, they may do so by passing a law. But an agency can do only what Congress authorizes it to do. Regardless of how well-intentioned, HHS’s attempt here to shoehorn the vaccine mandate into statutory language authorizing modification of Head Start’s administrative, financial, and facility-management standards goes too far.”
The HHS did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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