By Terri Jo Neff
Efforts by the Biden Administration to coerce Arizonans to obtain the COVID-19 vaccination or risk losing their jobs is “one of the greatest infringements upon individual liberties, principles of federalism, and separation of powers ever attempted by any administration in the history of our Republic,” according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
“Under our Constitution, the President is not a king who can exercise this sort of unbridled power unilaterally,” Brnovich argues in the lawsuit, adding that “even George III wouldn’t have dreamed that he could enact such sweeping policies by royal decree alone.”
Over the last few weeks, President Joe Biden has pushed for more Americans to be vaccinated, including tens of thousands of Arizonans who work for the federal government, private contractors doing business with the U.S., healthcare workers whose employers received Medicare or Medicare payments, and those working for companies with at least 100 employees.
Among those the mandate would apply to are nearly 300,000 employees of the federally-funded Head Start program. The lawsuit does not address Biden’s recent announcement that all military personnel, including reserves, must be vaccinated.
Employees who refuse to be vaccinated under various Presidential executive orders or OSHA rules will be forced to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, or face termination.
Brnovich’s lawsuit seeks ruling that Biden and the other federal defendants do not have authority to impose the vaccination mandate on U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. It also seeks a declaratory judgment finding such policies and mandates unconstitutional.
Another prong of Brnovich’s lawsuit takes aim at the fact U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and even lawfully present aliens face the prospect of much harsher public health mandates and punishment than hundreds of thousands of unauthorized aliens present in the country. As a result, Brnovich is asking for a court order enjoining the President and other federal officials from engaging in unconstitutional discrimination.
Brnovich’s lawsuit was not the only major COVID-19 vaccination development to occur Tuesday.
A federal judge in New York issued an emergency injunction on Tuesday against the State of New York’s requirement that all healthcare workers provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination. The order by U.S. District Judge David Hurd temporarily suspends a mandate put forth last month by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo which applied to all hospitals and congregate care facilities such as nursing homes.
Cuomo’s mandate did not protect employees who hold sincere religious beliefs against receiving the vaccine, and Gov. Kathy Hochul did not amend the mandate when she was recently sworn in.
The New York Department of Health is now prohibited from initiating “any action, disciplinary or otherwise” which would impact the licensure, certification, residency, admitting privileges, or other professional status or qualification of any healthcare worker who objected to the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination due to a religious exemption.
Additional legal proceedings could lead to all or part of the New York mandate being permanently enjoined.
Also on Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued an advisory to all immigrants who apply for a Green Card on or after Oct. 1 that they must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to ensure their application is not rejected.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services advisory pertains to all applicants seeking permanent residency, who must undergo an immigration medical examination to show the applicant is “free from any conditions that would render them inadmissible under the health-related grounds.”
Under the new policy, applicants will not be able to receive the immigration medical examination without first providing proof of COVID-19 vaccination.