Brnovich wants closer look at Ducey’s authority over businesses

Posted 7/9/20

PHOENIX — The state’s top lawyer is telling a federal judge that there may be legitimate claims that Gov. Doug Ducey has exceeded his legal authority in closing certain businesses.

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Brnovich wants closer look at Ducey’s authority over businesses


PHOENIX — The state’s top lawyer is telling a federal judge that there may be legitimate claims that Gov. Doug Ducey has exceeded his legal authority in closing certain businesses.

And he’s urging her to take a closer look.

In a new filing Wednesday, Attorney General Mark Brnovich said that the claims by Xponential Fitness against the governor "raise serious issues of first impression involving executive authority in an emergency." More to the point, he said these "deserve close and careful consideration by the court."

But Mr. Brnovich does not want to be involved in the dispute that will play out this coming week before Judge Diane Humetewa.

He pointed out that attorneys for the chain of fitness centers sued not just Mr. Ducey over the legality of his order but also the state. And Mr. Brnovich is required to defend the state.

Only thing is, the attorney general says the state has “sovereign immunity” from these kinds of federal court lawsuits.

“Indeed, the Supreme Court has consistently held that an unconsenting state is immune from suits brought in federal courts by her own citizens as well as by citizens of another state,” he said. And in this case, Mr. Brnovich said, “the state has taken no steps to waive immunity here or otherwise invoke the jurisdiction of a federal court here.”

And if Mr. Brnovich — and the state — are out of the lawsuit, that leaves it strictly up to Mr. Ducey to defend his actions.

The claim by Xponential Fitness in this case is in some ways similar to the effort in Maricopa County Superior Court by Mountainside Fitness to void the governor’s mandate that gyms and fitness centers, which he allowed to reopen in May, once again have to shut their doors. That move was in response to a sharp spike in the number of COVID-19 infections in Arizona.

Attorney Joel Sannes, representing Mountainside, argued that his client’s due process rights were violated with the summary closure.

Judge Timothy Thomason refused to block Mr. Ducey from enforcing that order while the case makes its way through court.

But in this case, attorney Alex Weingarten contends that the governor’s action actually are violations of the U.S. Constitution.

What it comes down to, the lawsuit says, is Mr. Ducey singling out indoor gyms and fitness centers “while inexplicably allowing most businesses in Arizona to continue operating without additional restrictions.” And Mr. Weingarten said the governor’s decision to do that without even giving affected businesses a chance to be heard “can only be described as irrational and arbitrary.”

All this goes to the governor’s authority not only to act but to do so unilaterally, with no notice, no hearings — and no chance for affected businesses to challenge the order.

Mr. Brnovich, in his filing with the federal court, said Mr. Ducey never consulted with him in crafting and implementing his executive orders. And that, the attorney general said, means he “takes no position on the underlying merits of the plaintiffs’ claims” — other than saying that they raise serious issues about the governor’s authority in emergencies that have never been addressed and need the court’s “close and careful consideration.”

Mr. Ducey, in his own motion filed Wednesday, told Ms. Humetewa she also should toss the claims against him.

Brett Johnson, the governor’s attorney, said that businesses had no right to be consulted before Mr. Ducey ordered them to shut down. He said that’s not required in an emergency situation.

And Mr. Johnson said there’s no basis for Xponential to claim that gyms and fitness centers were being unfairly singled out while other businesses were allowed to remain open.

He cited a federal appellate court ruling that said it is reasonable for a governor to conclude that “heavy breathing and sweating in an enclosed space containing many shared surfaces creates conditions likely to spread the virus.” And Mr. Johnson told Ms. Humetewa that all she needs to decide is that Mr. Ducey had a “rational basis” for his decision.

“Gov. Ducey need not show that gyms are more dangerous than other types of businesses that are currently allowed to remain open,” Mr. Johnson wrote.

Ms. Humetewa has scheduled a hearing for this coming week.

Maricopa County Informacion en Espanol

Hoy (July 8) comienza la votación temprana para la Elección Primaria de agosto. Más de 1.3 millones de boletas están en camino para ser entregadas a los votantes, y los Centros de Votación están ahora abiertos.

Con un mayor acceso, los votantes del Condado Maricopa pueden elegir votar por correo o en persona para la Primaria.

Los votantes que solicitaron una boleta por correo o están en la Lista Permanente de Votación Temprana (PEVL), deben de estar pendientes de un sobre amarillo en su buzón dentro de los próximos días. Los votantes independientes son elegibles para participar en la Elección Primaria de Agosto, pero deben seleccionar el tipo de boleta en TengaBoletaLista.Voto o en el Centro de Votación. Los votantes registrados todavía tienen hasta el 24 de julio para solicitar una boleta por correo en TengaBoletaLista.Voto.

"Estamos orgullosos de servir a más de 75% de los votantes del Condado Maricopa a través de nuestra opción de votación por correo, mientras que todavía se puede proporcionar a los votantes las opciones de votación en persona en espacios grandes con mayores medidas de seguridad,” dijo el Registrador del Condado Maricopa Adrian Fontes.

Los votantes en persona verán al llegar que los lugares son suficientemente grandes para permitir el distanciamiento físico. Dado que el condado se está cambiando hacia un modelo de elección de Centros de Votación “vote en cualquier lugar,” los votantes pueden elegir el horario y el lugar que mejor les funcione, incluyendo algunas tardes y fines de semana. Las ubicaciones están abiertas del 8 de julio al 4 de agosto.

Los centros de votación abiertos hoy incluyen:

  • Surprise City Hall, 16000 N Civic Center Plaza, Surprise, AZ 85374
  • Bell Canyon Pavilions, 2710 W Bell Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85053

Dos ubicaciones adicionales de Centros de Votación abrirán esta semana. Todas las demás ubicaciones de los Centros de Votación se irán abriendo a través de un enfoque gradual durante la elección. Encuentre más Centros de Votación en Ubicaciones.Maricopa.Voto.

Estamos implementando protocolos de seguridad mejorados, incluyendo el uso obligatorio a los trabajadores electorales de mascarillas, protectores faciales y guantes, y que frecuentemente se limpie superficies de alto contacto y se desinfecte las plumas después de cada uso. Tendremos mascarillas y guantes disponibles para todos los votantes en caso de que lo necesiten.

Estas precauciones de seguridad, un mayor acceso a la votación por correo y el aumento en la frecuencia de aperturas y opciones de las ubicaciones, son parte del plan electoral del Condado Maricopa para expandir el acceso al voto, mientras se enfoca en la salud y la seguridad de los votantes y los trabajadores electorales.

Con una participación electoral potencialmente histórica, el condado está preparado para que más de 700,000 votantes emitan su voto para la Elección Primaria. Antes de la pandemia de COVID-19, los modelos electorales estimaron que alrededor de 100,000 de esos votantes participarían el Día de la Elección, 4 de agosto de 2020.

Para obtener más información sobre lo que contiene su boleta, ubicaciones de los Centro de Votación y más, visite TengaBoletaLista.Voto.