This week, two teachers filed a federal lawsuit to stop a new vaccine and mask mandate. Head Start teachers Sandy Brick of Louisiana and Jessica Trenn of Ohio have taught kids through ever-changing COVID-19 mitigation measures. They have continued to serve their communities and students, ensuring children from low-income families are prepared for kindergarten, despite uncertainty. But now, they and 280,000 Americans employed by Head Start agencies find themselves subject to a “jab-or-job” mandate.
Head Start agencies are local, largely nonprofit, or governmental providers that receive federal funding to provide Head Start services for children two through five years old. The providers received the new mandate on Nov. 30, 2021, when the Office of Head Start under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published an “interim final rule.” The requirement demands that teachers, staff and volunteers in Head Start programs be “fully vaccinated” by Jan. 31, 2022, or face losing their jobs. It also places a universal mask mandate on all adults and children over two years old.
Teachers Sandy and Jessica filed a lawsuit in federal court Louisiana to stop the mandate and are represented by the national law firm Liberty Justice Center and the Louisiana-based Pelican Institute for Public Policy.
“This mandate is yet another example of the federal government’s relentless, illegal effort to control the private choices of Americans,” said Daniel Suhr, managing attorney at the Liberty Justice Center. “The Biden Administration does not have the authority from Congress or the U.S. Constitution to issue blanket vaccine and mask mandates.”
The Head Start mandate is part of a comprehensive plan announced on September 9, 2021, by President Biden to vaccinate as many Americans as possible against COVID-19. Included as part of that plan were five federal vaccine mandates. President Biden proclaimed he had lost patience with the decisions of some Americans to not get vaccinated and he looked to agency emergency rulemaking and executive orders to force as many people as possible to vaccinate.
Liberty Justice Center and Pelican Institute attorneys are also suing the federal government to block the vaccine-or-test mandate for private businesses with more than 100 employees. The mandate was blocked nationwide as a direct result of their lawsuit on behalf of Louisiana business owner Brandon Trosclair and six Texas CaptiveAire employees in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. On Dec. 18, 2022, the Liberty Justice Center and Pelican Institute asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reissue the stay barring implementation and enforcement of the mandate after it was lifted by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Attorneys at the Liberty Justice Center have also filed lawsuits to halt two additional federal vaccine mandates for civilians, one for healthcare workers and another for federal contractors. These mandates are currently blocked by several federal courts.
Brick v. Biden was filed Dec. 22, 2021, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Lake Charles Division.