Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is suing the Biden administration again over its COVID-19 mandates, this time leading a coalition of other Attorneys General against the mandate for health care workers, known as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services mandate. He took the lead along with the Attorneys General of Montana and Louisiana in a 69-page complaint, which was joined by 13 other states.
Brnovich said in a statement, “The unlawful mandate for facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is ‘causing havoc in the healthcare labor market’ across the nation – especially in rural communities – and does not account for the pandemic’s changing circumstances.”
President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates have been running into trouble in the courts, with the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the mandate for large businesses, and several judges stopping his mandate for federal contractors. The latest one to do so is Judge Michael Liburdi of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona in Phoenix, who ruled on Jan. 27 that the Biden administration lacked authority to implement the mandate.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich brought the lawsuit against the Biden administration over that mandate and others. He told The Arizona Sun Times, “If left unchecked, these unlawful and unconstitutional mandates would essentially override the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to our Constitution, and eviscerate the most basic health care freedoms of millions of Americans. It’s federal overreach at its worst. I will continue to stand up for Arizona. I’m proud to have led the fight against the Biden Administration’s unprecedented power grab. The government shouldn’t be your nanny, and it doesn’t get to be your doctor either.”
Arizona State University instituted a COVID-19 vaccine booster mandate on Jan. 11 for student-athletes participating in away games. Outraged student-athletes launched a petition to demand that ASU reverse the mandate, which has over 1,700 signatures so far.
The petition, which was started anonymously probably due to fear of retaliation, states in part, “In a collective and respectful agreement amongst the athletes of various sports teams at Arizona State, we are voicing our stance to fight for the right to dictate what we decide goes into our bodies regarding the COVID-19 vaccination booster shot. … We want to express that there should NOT be a forced decision to be made by us athletes that causes us to sacrifice the season and competition we come to Arizona State for.”
State Sen. Kelly Townsend (R-Apache Junction) announced she is running for Arizona’s newly redrawn 6th District Congressional seat, which is an open seat due to Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick declining to run for reelection. The sprawling southeast Arizona rural district runs from the U.S.-Mexico border to the Mogollon Rim and the New Mexico border to Casa Grande. Townsend lives in Apache Junction, in the newly drawn CD 5, about 60 miles from CD 6, but there is no requirement for her to live in the district she runs in, only that she live within the state.
Townsend told Capitol Media Services, “Anybody who knows me knows that my heart has been down in the southern part of the state anyway. That’s where I go for leisure, and that’s where I go to work.” Townsend filed a complaint last year with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich about Tucson’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. After Brnovich issued an opinion declaring that the mandate was illegal, the city paused it.
Three Arizona members of Congress are joining in on a lawsuit against the Biden administration over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees. Reps. Paul Gosar (R-04-Ariz.), Andy Biggs (R-05-Ariz.), and Debbie Lesko (R-08-Ariz.) along with 180 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate filed an amicus curiae brief in NFIB v. OSHA challenging the authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to implement the mandate.
The members of Congress argued that the mandate violates federalism, encroaching on the states’ authority. “[T]he sudden ‘discovery’ of authority under the OSH Act confirms that it was never intended to displace state authority in this area.” They assert, “Congress did not give that power to an agency bureaucrat.”
The Biden administration announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all branches of the military on August 25, which applies to members of the Arizona Army National Guard (AZARNG). Although six governors are attempting to stop the mandate for their National Guards, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is not one of them.
AZARNG has not begun discharging any soldiers yet, but intends to follow the lead of other branches of the military, which have. The Department of Defense declared that Army National Guard and Reserve members have until June 30 to receive their shots.
State Rep. Steve Kaiser (R-Phoenix) is sponsoring a bill, HB 2020, that would exempt people in Arizona from government or private businesses imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates if they have already had COVID-19. This includes mandates from the federal government and from corporations at their branches in Arizona. To be eligible, someone must show either proof of antibodies, a positive test, or a positive T-cell immune response to COVID-19.
Kaiser, who came up with the idea for the bill during a discussion with a friend, told The Arizona Sun Times, “It provides a great way for folks who are uncomfortable with the vaccine to keep their jobs. There is a lot of data to support this, and it has a great chance of passing through the legislature.” He said at least one Democrat has said they may support the bill.
The City of Phoenix instituted a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees, and numerous Republican lawmakers want to stop it. Several legislators sent a letter to Gov. Doug Ducey demanding that he call a special session of the Arizona Legislature so they can pass legislation halting that mandate and any others in Arizona.
Sen. Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix), Rep. Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix), and Rep. Justin Wilmeth (R-Phoenix) wrote, “We urge you to immediately call us into a special session to pass legislation prohibiting any government entity from mandating the COVID-19 vaccine. Since the Arizona Supreme Court struck down policy provisions added to the budget passed earlier this year as a violation of our state Constitution’s single subject clause, it is imperative we address medical freedom issues taking place in our K-12 public schools, public colleges and universities, and any city, county or town from imposing a vaccine passport or mandate on any person or business.”
Arizona Corporation Commissioners Jim O’Connor and Justin Olson want to hold a meeting to vote on whether utilities, known as Public Service Corporations, can force their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine. They sent a letter to their fellow commissioners on November 18 expressing their concerns.
O’Connor and Olson cite the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision on November 12 putting a stay on the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees. They quoted the opinion where it said the mandate “raises constitutional concerns” and “grossly exceeds [its] statutory authority.”
During a press conference announcing his lawsuit with police officers and firefighters against the City of Phoenix over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich was asked by Arizona’s Family political editor Dennis Welch whether he was vaccinated. His press secretary waved the question off as “inappropriate.”
However, Brnovich, who is running for U.S. Senate, responded, “Do you have an STD?” After a brief pause with some laughter from those present, he went on, “It’s not a ridiculous question. The question should be, once you allow or cede this authority to the federal government, where does it stop? And my own health information is my own health information.”
Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio is requesting a meeting and vote on the City of Phoenix’s new COVID-19 vaccine mandate. In a letter sent to the mayor and other members of the city council on November 22, he expressed concerns over public safety, employee retention, and whether the Biden’s administration mandate even applies.
“This decision will compromise vital citywide services to our residents, including public safety, which this Council has been aware of the alarming crime data and how the city is struggling to hire and retain personnel,” he wrote. “A more thorough determination needs to be made on whether, under federal law, the City of Phoenix and its 13,000 employees are considered ‘federal contractors’ for the purposes of this mandate,” he wrote.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and the Arizona National Guard did respond to queries from The Arizona Sun Times regarding whether Arizona would follow the lead of Oklahoma and its National Guard decision not to enforce the Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
A source familiar with the Arizona National Guard’s vaccine policy told that commanders in the Arizona National Guard have already begun ordering troops to get the vaccine.
The source said based on their understanding of the internal dynamics of the Arizona Guard Ducey could reverse this vaccination push and follow Oklahoma’s lead.
While Ducey remains silent, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, now running for the 2022 GOP Senate nomination, sued the Biden administration twice over the mandate.
The newly installed head of the Oklahoma National Guard has ordered that troops under his command will not be forced to comply with the Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of the armed forces.
“No Oklahoma Guardsman will be required to take the COVID-19 Vaccine,” Army Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino wrote in a Thursday memo. The memo was at odds with a Defense Department directive that the “total force” – including the National Guard – must be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Private employers around the country are implementing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, some in response to the mandate implemented by President Joe Biden on businesses with 100 or more employees through the Occupational and Safety Health Act (OSHA), and Arizona Rep. Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix) is pushing back. Bolick sent a letter to Mayo Clinic in Phoenix demanding a meeting to discuss its vaccine mandate, stating that Biden’s OSHA mandate is unconstitutional and pointing out various reasons why Mayo should reconsider its policy. Bolick said that she has received dozens of emails from Mayo employees about it, including remote workers who work from home.
“During the height of the pandemic in 2020, these same health care heroes worked tirelessly for Mayo to care for the sick knowing they were potentially putting their own health and family’s health at risk,” she wrote. “Yet, just a year later, Mayo appears ready to show them the door considering the Biden/Harris administration’s lawless vaccine mandate.”
The Job Creators Network (JCN) Thursday announced a lawsuit against the Biden Administration just hours after the announcement that a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all companies with 100 employees or more will take effect on January 4.
That mandate is expected to affect 84 million Americans.
Some 4,800 state employees in Washington have already requested medical or religious exemptions from Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
According to information released this week by the state, those requests amount to nearly 8% of the 60,000 state workers who fall under Inslee’s 24 cabinet departments. As of Sept. 6, less than 50% of all employees in those agencies were verified as being fully vaccinated.
Inslee last month issued an executive order that all state employees, as well as K-12 and state university staff, must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or face dismissal.
Arizona became the first state to sue the Biden administration over its federal vaccine mandate, according to Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s press release.
“The federal government cannot force people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The Biden Administration is once again flouting our laws and precedents to push their radical agenda,” Brnovich said. “There can be no serious or scientific discussion about containing the spread of COVID-19 that doesn’t begin at our southern border.”