Brick v. Biden
Head Start Teachers Should Not Be Fired for Declining the COVID-19 Vaccine
Victory! The district court ruled in favor of our teachers and the challenged rule was rescinded.
Teachers in Head Start programs serve approximately 850,000 children living at or below the poverty line.
Head Start teachers like Sandy Brick of Louisiana and Jessica Trenn of Ohio taught kids through ever-changing COVID-19 mitigation measures. They continued to serve their communities and students despite uncertainty. But they and 280,000 Americans employed by Head Start agencies found themselves the subject of new federal vaccine and mask mandates.
On September 9, 2021, President Biden unveiled a comprehensive plan to vaccinate as many Americans as possible against COVID-19. Included as part of that plan were five federal vaccine mandates. President Biden proclaimed that he was fed up 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.
Head Start agencies (local, largely nonprofit, or governmental providers who receive federal funding to provide Head Start services) received their 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” requiring all staff, contractors and volunteers to receive a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Jan. 31, 2022. It also places a universal mask mandate on all adults and children.
Sandy and Jessica work in programs that did not have vaccine and mask mandates prior to the federal government’s new directive, but now they face losing their jobs for declining to get the COVID-19 vaccine. However, with the help of attorneys at the Pelican Institute Center for Justice and the Liberty Justice Center, they filed a federal lawsuit against President Joe Biden and federal officials to challenge the government’s gross intrusion and overreach. They believe the mandate is illegal because it does not follow the lawful ruling process, it exceeds the authority given to HHS by Congress and it violates the U.S. Constitution.
- Complaint. On December 22, 2021, Pelican Institute with the help of the Liberty Justice Institute filed suit on behalf of Sandy Brick and Jessica Trenn in the Western District of Louisiana. The case was assigned to the Honorable Terry A. Doughty.
- Motion for a Preliminary Injunction. On December 23, 2021, Pelican Institute filed a Motion for a Preliminary Injunction to protect the teachers during the pendency of their lawsuit.
- Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss. On May 25, 2022, Defendant Biden filed a motion to dismiss.
- Memorandum Ruling. On September 21, 2022, the district court published its memorandum ruling, ruling on behalf of the teachers.
- Fifth Circuit Order. On August 29, 2023, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an order to vacate the district court’s injunction since Defendant Biden had rescinded the challenged rule, but leave the district court’s judgment and memorandum ruling in place.
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The Center for Justice is a public-interest law firm that represents at no cost clients seeking to advance freedom and opportunity in Louisiana and the Fifth Circuit.