Arizona on Tuesday sued the Biden administration over President Biden's sweeping vaccinate mandates that affect federal employees and private businesses with more than 100 employees -- the first lawsuit against a policy that Republicans have slammed as an example of federal overreach.
"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," Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement.
Biden announced the measures last week, which require federal workers and private sector workers in businesses with more than 100 employees be vaccinated or take a COVID test weekly, as part of an action plan to combat the virus.
"We've been patient but our patience is wearing thin and your refusal has cost all of us," Biden said from the White House. "This is not about freedom or personal choice. It's about protecting yourself and those around you."
The mandate, which is expected to affect as many as 100 million Americans in an array of jobs, including health care, directly impacts the private sector. Republicans have described the move as an "unconstitutional" act of federal coercion that should be challenged or resisted.
Specifically, the Arizona lawsuit contrasts the mandates with the lack of mandate for those entering the country illegally via the U.S. southern border, where there has been a surge in migrant encounters – with more than 212,000 in July alone. While approximately 40% of those encounters result an expulsion via Title 42 public health protections, many other migrants have been released into the U.S., which has led to concerns about the risk of potential COVID-19 spread.
"There can be no serious or scientific discussion about containing the spread of COVID-19 that doesn’t begin at our southern border," Brnovich said.
The lawsuit argues that the mandate violates the Equal Protection Clause by allegedly favoring migrants who have come into the country illegally over American citizens.
"Although the precise contours of the federal vaccination mandates are not yet clear, the violation of the Equal Protection Clause is already evident and egregious," the brief says. "In a nutshell: unauthorized aliens will not be subject to any vaccination requirements even when released directly into the United States (where most will remain), while roughly a hundred million U.S. citizens will be subject to unprecedented vaccination requirements."
"This reflects an unmistakable -- and unconstitutional -- brand of favoritism in favor of unauthorized aliens," it says.
It also cites a retweet by White House chief of staff Ronald Klein, who retweeted a claim that the move was the "ultimate work-around" for the federal government to require vaccines.
"The inadvertent admission in the preceding paragraph makes all of the administration’s actions constitutionally suspect," it says. "These other violations will be the subject of future challenges."
Other Republican states have also indicated that they intend to sue the administration as well.
"This is an egregious, tyrannical power grab that stands no chance in court," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. "I’ll be suing this disastrous Admin very soon."