MORGANTOWN — State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced Wednesday that he has joined a 24-state lawsuit opposing the Biden administration’s mask and vaccine requirement for Head Start programs.
The suit argues, “The Head Start mandate applies to all preschool programs funded by the federal Head Start program, regulating hundreds of thousands of staff, volunteers, and preschool students nationwide. It forces vaccinations on staff, volunteers, and others in contact with Head Start students and forces masks on everyone age 2 and up. It includes few exceptions, is projected to lead to tens of thousands of Head Start agency staff losing their jobs, and will cause programs to close or reduce capacity — achieving the very opposite result of its purported goal.”
The suit says Biden announced his plan for Head Start in September, saying “that he would impose — through unilateral executive action — a vaccine mandate on ‘all of nearly 300,000 educators’ in Head Start programs. In announcing those mandates, President Biden declared that he was ‘tak[ing] on elected officials and states. and that he would use my power as President to get them out of the way.”
Then, on Nov. 30, the Department of Health and Human Services published an interim final rule requiring vaccination of Head Start staff, volunteers, and anyone else who comes in contact with Head Start children and masking of all Head Start children 2 years or older and all adults, the suit says.
The states allege that the Head Start mandate is beyond the executive branch’s authority and arbitrary and capricious, and violates various federal laws passed by Congress.
Louisiana is the lead state and the case is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. The states are asking the court to halt the mandate pending further review, and for the court to declare the mandate illegal and unconstitutional and to vacate it.
Morrisey said in announcing the suit, “This is yet another unlawful attempt by the Biden administration to impose vaccine mandates upon workers and volunteers, which will hurt already-struggling staffs in under-served communities and likely impede child development.”
He continued, “This effort goes even further by requiring universal masking for everyone over the age of 2 who is associated with the program. This mandate will ultimately hurt, not help the working families, single parents, and grandparents raising grandchildren who desperately depend on programs such as Head Start.”
Along with Louisiana and West Virginia, the other plaintiff states are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming.