'An infringement on individual liberties': Arizona sues over federal vaccine rules for workers

Ryan Randazzo
Arizona Republic
The Arizona Attorney General's Office on Tuesday filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona seeking a ruling that declares President Joe Biden's new federal policies unconstitutional.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich on Tuesday filed a legal challenge to the federal requirements for businesses to require COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing at companies with 100 or more employees, calling it an overreach. 

"This is an infringement on individual liberties," Brnovich said Tuesday on a call with reporters, adding that the law leaves such health decisions to the states.

Brnovich's office filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona seeking a ruling that declares the new federal policies unconstitutional. The Attorney General's Office said the lawsuit was the first of its kind filed in the U.S., though more action is expected across the country.

Under Biden's plan, the requirement for employees to be vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing applies to employers with 100 or more workers. Employers that don't comply could face fines of $14,000 per violation.

"This lawsuit is about the power of the federal government," said Brnovich, who is running for the Republican nomination for next year's U.S. Senate race.

Governor weighs in:Ducey promises Arizona will 'push back' on Biden's vaccine, testing mandates

Brnovich echoed concerns from other Arizona Republicans, including GOP gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson, that U.S. citizens face requirements regarding the vaccine while people crossing the southern border illegally are not required to get the vaccine when they are intercepted by authorities.

"He is in essence discriminating against American citizens," Brnovich said. He said he believes that violates the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Brnovich said that even though the federal rules aren't yet written, the lawsuit is valid because it seeks to declare that the federal government doesn't have the authority to create such rules.

When asked if his office recognized other federal safety regulations such as hard hats at construction sites, Brnovich said to expect more legal action over the new regulations.

"Stay tuned for the next lawsuit," Brnovich said.

Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, said on social media that the lawsuit was a "political stunt" designed to garner television appearances for Brnovich the candidate.

"It's obvious that this is a political lawsuit and not designed to actually influence policy. It's real purpose is to get the attention of the bookers on Hannity," Humble posted on Twitter.

Reach reporter Ryan Randazzo at ryan.randazzo@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-4331. Follow him on Twitter @UtilityReporter.

Subscribe to azcentral.com today.