AG Brnovich asks Arizona Supreme Court to hear mask mandate appeal
PHOENIX – Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich wants the state’s appeal of a lower court ruling that struck down a host of Republican legislation, including a ban on face mask mandates in schools, to go straight to the Arizona Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, the state petitioned the Supreme Court to take the case from the Court of Appeals and also asked Arizona’s highest court for an emergency stay on Monday’s ruling.
The Supreme Court denied the stay request Wednesday but has yet to decide if it will take over the case before it goes through the Court of Appeals.
In the state’s transfer request, Brnovich argued that the appeal should be expedited because the case is of high importance and will “almost certainly” make its way to the Supreme Court eventually.
Brnovich also argued that Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper’s ruling was “legally erroneous in numerous respects.”
“Those multiple flaws carry serious statewide consequences for the legislative process in Arizona and could now subject hundreds of state laws to challenge on title and single subject grounds,” the petition says.
“The trial court’s ruling carries significant implications for the operation of state government and the State will continue to suffer harm if the trial court’s ruling is not swiftly overturned, allowing the challenged provisions to immediately go into effect.”
Cooper determined that the Republican-led Legislature violated the Arizona Constitution when it rolled the mask mandate ban and other provisions into state budget bills that were passed in June.
A coalition of educators and their allies filed a lawsuit in August contending that, per the Constitution, bills can only cover one subject and the contents must be adequately reflected in the title.
Cooper, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge since she was appointed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer in 2011, overturned the laws two days before they were scheduled to go into effect.
The state’s transfer petition said the Monday ruling “nullified 58 provisions of state law.”
In addition to the ban on public K-12 schools requiring face masks, the lawsuit successfully challenged laws prohibiting colleges from requiring vaccinations for students, and communities from establishing vaccine passports for entry into large events, businesses and other places. It also challenged a broad invalidation of any other local virus measure.
An entire budget measure that served as a catch-all for a wish list of conservative policies was found to be unconstitutional, as well other laws unrelated to COVID-19 prevention efforts. One prohibits the use of state money for teaching critical race theory, a way of thinking about America’s history that centers on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and they function to maintain the dominance of white people.
“There is an orchestrated attempt by outside left-wing groups to undermine Arizona’s lawfully enacted statutes in order to push their radical ideas,” Brnovich, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2022, said Wednesday in a press release.
“I will continue to defend laws passed by our state Legislature and uphold the will of Arizona families.”
Brnovich also said he will appeal Tuesday’s ruling by a U.S. District Court judge that blocked a key portion of a new Arizona law that would have let prosecutors bring felony charges against doctors who knowingly terminate pregnancies solely because the fetuses have a genetic abnormality such as Down syndrome.
“Our job is to defend the law and we will continue to do so,” he said in the release. “Whether it’s pushing back against unconstitutional mandates or defending our laws against pro-abortion activists, we will continue to lead the charge and stand up for Arizonans.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.