Texas state attorney general Ken Paxton celebrated a court victory Friday as a federal judge blocked the Biden administration’s attempt to mandate COVID vaccines for workers in the state’s Head Start programs – and to force students as young as 2 years old to mask up in school.
The legal setback for the Biden administration came just days before the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments over the president’s vaccine mandate for private businesses.
“This is a win for the children of Texas for sure,” Paxton told Fox News.
“We thought that was a parental choice, not a Joe Biden choice, so we sued them, arguing that he didn’t have the authority – statutory or constitutional – to do this,” Paxton explained.
In November, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services threatened to pull the funding of Head Start programs that refuse to enforce the administration’s vaccine mandate for staffers and volunteers, or that resist imposing masks on preschoolers.
In Texas, that could mean a loss of up to $842 million in federal grants, Paxton alleged in a Dec. 10 filing that called the mandates an “unprecedented” overreach of federal power.
On Friday, Judge James “Wesley” Hendrix of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas agreed, ruling that HHS cannot impose such a requirement unless Congress acts to give the agency that power.
Republicans cheered the court’s decision.
“Texas just beat Biden again,” Gov. Greg Abbott exulted on Twitter after Friday’s ruling was announced.
“The Court writes: ‘It is undisputed that an agency cannot act without Congressional authorization’,” Abbott added. “That would apply to all of Biden’s orders.”
Friday’s ruling applies only to Texas — but a similar lawsuit aimed at halting the Head Start mandates nationwide, filed Dec. 21 in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, has been joined by 25 states.