PHOENIX – Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a lawsuit on Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.
“It’s not a lawsuit about the rules,” Brnovich said during a press conference call. “It’s about the president’s authority and about the equal protection clause.
“It’s a lawsuit that’s focused on those provisions of the Constitution. So it does not deal with the rules themselves, because the rules haven’t been promulgated yet.”
Last week, President Joe Biden announced the plan, which is projected to impact about 100 million Americans in the public and private sector.
Employees at large businesses would be required to be fully vaccinated or pass weekly COVID-19 tests under rules being developed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
While many details about the rules remain unknown, Biden appears to be on firm legal ground to issue the directive in the name of protecting employee safety, according to several experts interviewed by The Associated Press.
Brnovich, who is seeking the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in 2022, argued that the plan discriminates against U.S. citizens because it won’t apply to people in the country illegally.
“That is a clear violation of the equal protections clause in the U.S. Constitution,” he said.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court names Biden and other members of the administration as defendants. It asks the court to rule that the defendants “do not have authority to impose the vaccination mandate on U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, let alone discriminate against them as compared to unauthorized aliens.”
It also asks the court to prevent the administration “from imposing on U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and lawfully present aliens any COVID-19 vaccination policies different from those imposed on unauthorized aliens already present in the United States and on aliens illegally entering the United States.”
Brnovich said more legal challenges were on the way.
“Our lawsuit right here is the first salvo in pushing back against the federal government’s vaccine mandates, but it will not be the last,” he said.
The White House is gearing up for legal challenges and believes that even if some of the mandates are tossed out, millions of Americans will get a shot because of the new requirements — saving lives and preventing the spread of the virus.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki outlined the legal justification Friday, saying the Department of Labor has an obligation to keep workplaces safe.
“The law basically requires the Department of Labor take action when it finds grave risk to workers,” Psaki said. “And certainly a pandemic that killed more than 600,000 people qualifies as grave risk to workers.”
Biden’s plan calls for all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans. And the roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated.
Biden is also requiring vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government — with no option to test out. That covers several million more workers.
Biden announced the new requirements in a Thursday afternoon address from the White House as part of a new “action plan” to address the latest rise in coronavirus cases and the stagnating pace of COVID-19 shots.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.