Mark Brnovich has watched as Arizona’s border has deteriorated, saying that by any measure, the boundary with Mexico “has never been worse.”
The Republican left office as the state’s attorney general this week. He has amassed a record as one of President Biden‘s most ardent legal opponents — Mr. Brnovich sued the administration on a variety of issues, including coronavirus vaccine mandates, student loans and the border wall. Mr. Brnovich is leaving office because of term limits.
Mr. Brnovich leaves a major piece of unfinished business, departing just a few days after the Supreme Court announced it would hear arguments in his attempt to force the Biden administration to keep the Title 42 pandemic border expulsion policy in place.
Now it will be up to his Democratic successor Kris Mayes to decide whether to keep Arizona involved — though Mr. Brnovich said if she doesn’t, other GOP-led states are still part of the litigation and will keep the heat on Mr. Biden.
“By any objective measure, the border crisis, border security, has never been worse,” Mr. Brnovich told The Washington Times in an interview before his final day. “Since Joe Biden took office he essentially decriminalized and incentivized people breaking the law and coming over here.”
Mr. Brnovich had just completed his final official trip to the state’s border with Mexico before speaking to The Times. He said he heard more stories about the large groups of migrants and the drug carriers streaming over. It’s something those in Washington can’t really fathom.
“You have a metric and that metric has never ever been this bad,” he said. “People just don’t understand how chaotic and wide open it is.”
“If people are being honest in the Biden administration they will tell you that this is dangerous and it’s unprecedented,” he told The Times. “I have people ask me all the time, ‘Why is Joe Biden doing this? Why is [Homeland Security] Secretary [Alejandro Mayorkas] doing this?’”
During his time in office, Mr. Brnovich took on Google, winning an $85 million settlement over the company’s use of tracking data. He also won settlements against Ticketmaster and StubHub.
And he revived the state’s execution protocol after eight years during which it was moribund.
“We worked tirelessly to make sure Arizona started to execute degenerate criminals again,” he said.
He also took on the Democratic National Committee, defending Arizona’s new election laws in a case that made it to the Supreme Court, where the justices upheld by a vote of 6-3 the state’s policies banning ballot harvesting or out-of-precinct voting.
In his battles with Mr. Biden, he didn’t always win.
Mr. Brnovich‘s border wall lawsuit was rejected by the courts. He lost the first round in his fight against the president’s 2021 coronavirus stimulus bill, which purported to bar states that took federal cash from trying to cut taxes. An appeals court later revived his challenge.
The Supreme Court also declined his attempt to intervene and defend the Trump administration’s strict approach to immigrants’ use of welfare after the Biden administration said it wouldn’t defend the Trump rules in court.
Mr. Brnovich argued the case personally and recalled taking joy in going up against the Biden team.
“Here I am, a first-generation American with a funny last name that people to this day still cannot speak, and I’m arguing in front of the United States Supreme Court again, against Joe Biden and his Ivy-league lawyers,” he recalled.
Mr. Brnovich had argued that the administration was using the courts to try to overturn Trump policy rather than going through the regulatory process. In that case, he said, the administration switched its legal position and effectively surrendered in court in a lawsuit brought by immigration activists, effectively erasing the so-called “public charge” policy for immigrants that the previous administration had put in place.
Mr. Brnovich says the same approach — known as “sue and settle” — is at stake in the Title 42 case. GOP-led states won a legal battle against the Biden administration in one federal court to keep Title 42 in place. However, they lost in a separate court where immigrant-rights advocates took the administration to court.
The administration chose to accept the outcome of the second ruling, and Mr. Brnovich then moved to intervene and defend Title 42 in lieu of the Biden team.
Now the justices must decide whether to permit the states to do that.