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Federal Judge Blocks Biden’s COVID Vaccine Mandate for Head Start Teachers

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


A federal district judge has blocked the Biden administration’s mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in the federal Head Start early education program.

The preliminary injunction by U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty, in a challenge brought by 24 states, also blocks the mandate’s requirement that Head Start students age 2 or older wear masks while indoors or in close contact with others.

“If the executive branch is allowed to usurp the power of the legislative branch to make laws, then this country is no longer a democracy — it is a monarchy,” U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty wrote in a 32-page judicial order issued on Saturday.

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“How far would they be able to go?” Doughty added. “Could the secretary mandate all children in the Head Start Program be vaccinated? Could the secretary mandate the parents and siblings of children in Head Start to take the COVID-19 vaccines? These examples may seem far-fetched, but so did the idea that vaccines could be mandated to millions of United States citizens.”

The judge continued, “A crossroad has clearly been reached in this country. If the executive branch is allowed to usurp the power of the legislative branch to make laws, then this country is no longer a democracy—it is a monarchy. This two-year pandemic has fatigued the entire country. However, this is not an excuse to forego the separation of powers.”

Judge Doughty agreed with the 24 states who sued the Biden administration granted their request for a restraining order and injunction.

His ruling further prevents toddlers (two years of age and older) from being forced to wear face masks indoors and during outdoor activities that involve close contact with others.

Head Start programs are federally-funded for young children from low-income families.

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“When this country’s founders declared independence on July 4, 1776, they sought a government much different from one involving the dictatorship of a king,” wrote the Trump-appointed judge.

The 24 states that signed on as plaintiffs in the legal action argue Biden and his administration enacted unconstitutional mandates for masks and vaccinations.

“Only Congress, as the legislative branch, has the authority to make laws,” they submitted. “The executive branch must take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Because the executive branch cannot make laws, it is given its power through acts of Congress.”

Judge Doughty disagreed with the Biden administration’s claim that they had the authority to issue the mandates under title 42 of the U.S. Code.

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The Louisiana district court judge pointed to several high court opinions he deemed relevant. One was a decision from the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in a 2014 case against the Environmental Protection Agency.

“When an agency claims to discover in a long-extant statute an unheralded power to regulate a significant portion of the American economy, we typically greet its announcement with a measure of skepticism,” Scalia wrote.

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Doughty seemed equally skeptical of similarly expansive claims by Biden administrators in their effort to combat COVID-19.

“If Congress intended to allow OHS to be able to mandate vaccines for Head Start staff, volunteers, and contractors, Congress certainly hid it well,” opined the Trump appointee.

“If the walls of separation fall, the system of checks and balances created by the founders of this country will be destroyed,” said Doughty.

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