TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced Tuesday a lawsuit against President Joe Biden's administration over the recently announced vaccine mandates for federal workers and private businesses.
In a news release, Brnovich's office says the lawsuit is the first to challenge the federal mandates.
“It violates traditional notions of federalism and quite frankly it's a power grab that’s never been attempted by any administration in the history of our republic," said Brnovich.
Biden’s mandate is now in the hands of the Federal labor department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which will formulate the rules.
University of Arizona labor law expert, Shefali Milczarek-Desai said she thinks the President's moves are legal.
"OSHA has the legal authority to ensure safe and healthy workplaces and that’s what it’s trying to do by either having workers vaccinate or have weekly testing and some other mitigation efforts,” she said.
Last week, President Biden announced that the federal government would require all its employees and contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The president also announced that businesses with more than 100 employees would have to require vaccinations or undergo weekly testing under OSHA safety regulations.
In the lawsuit filed Tuesday, Brnovich argues the mandate violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment, which was passed in the Reconstruction era after the Civil War and barred discrimination of former slaves. The lawsuit specifically cites migrants who have entered the country illegally who are not subject to a vaccination mandate, arguing the mandate favors migrants over American citizens.
"The Biden Administration is allowing literally hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have crossed the border illegally to decide whether they want the vaccine or not. At the same time, he's requiring, some estimates more than 100 million Americans, would be subject to mandatory Federal vaccines,“ said Brnovich.
Shefali Milczarek-Desai said OSHA standards will impact workers and doesn’t think it will have anything to do with immigration.
“If it applies to all workers it's really irrelevant this equal protection argument seems irrelevant because we aren’t talking about distinguishing between documented and undocumented workers,” she said.
From a public health standpoint, Pima County Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen said she fully backs the Biden Administration’s plans.
"The risk is not at an individual level, the risk extends beyond the individual to the family and the community, and that is where you see mandates, I would remind people that mandates in the vaccination space are not new. They have occurred multiple times before for any of you that went through the public school system you are aware," said Dr. Cullen.
In a speech Thursday, Biden argued the unvaccinated were holding the U.S. back from moving beyond the virus.
"Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated, even though the vaccine is safe, effective, and free," Biden said.