LUBBOCK, Texas — The Biden Administration on Friday gave official notice of appeal after a federal judge in Lubbock ruled against the administration for its vaccine and mask mandates of late 2021.
One aspect of the COVID-19 mandate was for all employers with more than 100 employees. Another aspect was the Health and Human Services rule directed at the federal Head Start program in which Lubbock ISD and many Texas districts participated. Head Start promotes the school readiness of small children from low-income families.
Lubbock ISD encouraged vaccination but did not mandate it. LISD and the state of Texas sued the administration in December 2021. In late March U.S. District Court Judge James Wesley Hendrix, issued his opinion and ruling.
The opinion said in part: “The wisdom of Head Start’s rule is not before the Court—only its legality.”
“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,” the judge ruled.
“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,” Hendrix continued.
“Equally fatal to the rule is the agency’s decision to implement it without the necessary public notice and comment, consultation with stakeholders, and reasonable explanation.”
Hendrix in his ruling and opinion also pointed out that President Biden freely admitted he was sidestepping many elected officials at the state and local levels.
Biden was quoted in the decision as saying, “If these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as President to get them out of the way.”
Previous coverage: Federal judge stops mask and vaccine mandates in Texas Head Start
The administration has since removed the masking requirement and restored some community-wide flexibility. But official records said the vaccine mandate for staff, contractors and volunteers remained on the books and was therefore subject the court’s ruling.
The decision in Lubbock applied nationwide. The entire Biden Administration rule, as it applied to Head Start, was set aside. A previous ruling in Lubbock temporarily set aside the mandate in Texas.
The notice of appeal did not yet include the legal reasoning. A petition will be filed later in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals which will explain why the Biden Administration thinks the court case in Lubbock should be overturned.