A federal judge in Louisiana has struck down a government mandate that required Head Start program staff to get vaccinated and mandated that both teachers and students must wear face masks.

“The public interest is served by maintaining the constitutional structure and maintaining the liberty of individuals who do not want to take the COVID-19 vaccine,” U.S. District Court Judge Terry A. Doughty wrote in his ruling that permanently enjoined the vaccine and mask mandate in 24 states, according to a press release from the Liberty Justice Center. “This interest outweighs Agency Defendants’ interests.”

“The public has a liberty interest in not being required to take a vaccine or be fired from their jobs,” he continued. “The public interest must be taken into account before allowing Agency Defendants to mandate vaccines. Although vaccines arguably serve the public interest, the liberty interests of individuals mandated to take the COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any interest generated by the mandatory administration of vaccines.”

A teacher with the Head Start program, Sandy Brick, had filed a lawsuit in December 2021 seeking to stop the mandate, represented by both the Liberty Justice Center and the Pelican Institute for Public Policy.

The Brick v. Biden decision “vindicates” Brick’s “right to teach without sacrificing her freedom,” Sarah Harbison, general counsel at the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, said Wednesday.

“Although President [Joe] Biden recently declared that the ‘pandemic is over,’ the fight to restore Americans’ individual liberties is not,” Daniel Suhr, managing attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, said in a statement. “We will continue to fight for teachers like Sandy and the low-income students they serve until every illegal and unjustified mandate is wiped from the books. Today’s decision is a significant step toward undoing the injustice perpetrated against everyday Americans throughout the COVID-19 crisis.”

According to the Liberty Justice Center, Head Start programs offer schools support for little children aged 5 years old and younger who are from impoverished families.

On Nov. 30, 2021, Head Start providers were alerted that the Office of Head Start under the Department of Health and Human Services had published an “interim final rule” that demands Head Start staff be “fully vaccinated” by Jan. 31, 2022—or risk losing their jobs. The same rule mandated masks for adults and children who are over 2 years old.

The Daily Signal reached out to the Department of Health and Human Services regarding whether it will appeal the ruling.

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