LUBBOCK, Texas – In a Federal courtroom Thursday morning, Judge Wes Henricks heard closing arguments from Lubbock ISD, the State of Texas and the Federal Administration as they made their cases over the federal vaccine and mask mandate in Head Start programs.
Over the past several weeks, the Lubbock Independent School District and the State of Texas have filed motions to strike down federal vaccine and mask requirements in Head Start programs. These programs have provided school readiness for lower-income families for decades. Today Lubbock ISD and the State of Texas plead their cases before a federal judge.
Attorney at Law and Texas Tech Law Professor Don Richards said the ruling very well may come down to if the regulation was filed and executed correctly.
“In this particular case, this is a question of law–not a question of fact,” Richards said.
The district’s lawyers argued that if the mandates are enforced, the programs face increasing staffing shortages, and the enrollment in these programs will drop drastically. On the other hand, the Federal Administration claimed the health and safety of these programs rely on taking further action to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“This is purely a question of law,” Richards said. “No. 1, can they do this? Can they even pass this rule that infringes on state’s rights? And No. 2, did they pass it procedurally, correct? Before they can pass a rule, they have to give notice, they have to publish a rule. They have to comment on it, let people argue. And that’s one of the things that stayed in Texas in Lubbock is they didn’t follow the procedural rules correctly.”
The judge is faced with a potentially historical decision. If he grants the injunction, it could affect more than just Texans.
“This is one that is clearly one that’s the national interest is high on,” Richards said. “With a pandemic taking place, and so judges tend to rule quicker in those cases. And this is one that is, again, no question politics are involved in this between the Governor Texas and President of the United States. Judges recognize that too. They try not to participate in politics, but they recognize the high level of interest and the fact that it’s being asked to apply nationwide.”