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Federal judge strikes down federal school mask and vaccine mandate for Head State program

FOX News 9/21/2022 Joshua Nelson
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A federal judge in Louisiana on Wednesday struck down a federal school mask and vaccine mandate.

U.S. District Court Judge Terry A. Doughty in Lafeyette, Louisiana ruled that the federal government cannot push a COVID-19 vaccine or mask mandate for Head Start program teachers, staff, and volunteers as well as all students and adults.

"The public has a liberty interest in not being required to take a vaccine or be fired from their jobs. The public interest must be taken into account before allowing Agency Defendants to mandate vaccines," Doughty said.

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President Biden speaks about inflation and supply chain issues in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes © AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes President Biden speaks about inflation and supply chain issues in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

On December 2021, a teacher named Sandy Brick filed a lawsuit in federal court Louisiana to stop the mask and vaccine mandate. Brick was represented by Liberty Justice Center and the Louisiana-based Pelican Institute for Public Policy.

Brick’s lawsuit was prompted by the Office of Head Start under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) publishing an "interim final rule" on Nov. 30, 2021, that required teachers, staff, and volunteers in Head Start programs to be "fully vaccinated" by Jan. 31, 2022, or face termination from their jobs.

The Office of Head Start also placed a universal mask mandate on all adults and children over two years old.

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Protesters opposing vaccine mandates gather at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Sept. 8, 2021. AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File © AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File Protesters opposing vaccine mandates gather at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Sept. 8, 2021. AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File

President Biden on September 9, 2021, issued the Head Start mandate as part of a package of COVID-related mandates which would have affected more than 80 million Americans who were privately employed.

However, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the government’s vaccine mandate for private businesses in a 6-3 decision last year.

With the Head Start ruling struck down, it is up to the federal government to decide whether to appeal the Western District ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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"This is a monumental win for individual liberty. Our constitutional rights were brushed aside over the past two years. This victory should remind everyone that our rights cannot be put on hold based on the whims of the so-called experts at the time. These rights pre-exist government, and we must never forget that," Corey DeAngelis, board member at Liberty Justice Center told Fox News Digital.

States across the U.S. received pushback for implementing school closures at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. These restrictive measures have been attributed to students' declining academic performances and literacy rates. 

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