Arizona’s Attorney General Mark Brnovich appeared on a popular radio show Wednesday, telling the host it is necessary for officials to “balance and respect the civil rights of people” even though he issued an opinion the day before that local law enforcement agencies have authority to enforce Governor Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order.
“As someone who has been involved with prosecuting cases obviously you want to make sure people know the law, they are aware of the law and what those restrictions may or may not be,” Brnovich said on KFYI’s James T. Harris show.
The AG explained that Title 26 of the Arizona Revised Statutes outlines the powers of cities and towns to enactment emergency orders, and that violations of those orders are misdemeanors. He also believes everyone, including elected officials, must respect the law and respect the Constitution.
“If you don’t like the law, then you change the law and you change the lawmakers,” Brnovich noted. “But you don’t get to pick and choose what parts of the Constitution apply to you or which parts apply to someone else.”
Brnovich also talked with Harris about recent legal battles the attorney general has initiated with the Arizona Board of Regents which oversees the state’s three universities. One of those cases involves the attorney general’s concerns with plans to build a hotel on land owned by Arizona State University (ASU), while another case involves a tuition dispute which will be heard later this year by the Arizona Supreme Court.
Most recently, the Board of Regents and ASU have come under fire for putting student privacy above public health concerns by not providing information about COVID-19 exposure among students and university employees.
“It’s unfortunate that Arizona’s universities are more concerned about where politicians or elected officials may reside on a specific political issue than where students are living in their dorms or who may have been exposed to the coronavirus,” Brnovich. “I think we as the public deserve at some point answers as to what happened with these students, where did they live, who else was exposed.”
He added that during the pandemic, college officials might have endangered the public “by not providing this information.”
Brnovich, calling himself “the peoples’ lawyer,” said he doesn’t mind fighting the Establishment and doesn’t worry if his legal opinions put him at odds with other state officials.
“You have to have an attorney general who has the ability to act independently and is not a tool to the Establishment or a lackey for other elected officials,” he told Harris. “I’m going to do what’s right by the people of Arizona, I’m going to do what’s right by the Constitution.”
During the interview, Brnovich compared some of his legal battles on behalf of Arizona’s citizens to that of Muhammed Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) who was an underdog when he beat heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. He also accepts the fact he may not win a Mr. Congeniality award.
“I told our folks it’s like Luke Skywalker going into the death star,” Brnovich said. “You’ve got to trust the force. I trust the law. And everything is going to be okay because I think the Constitution is on our side.”