[guest post by Dana]
What?? Governors think they know what will best fit their states’ needs?!
This morning, President Trump again asserted that it’s his decision to reopen the country, not the state governors:
….It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons. With that being said, the Administration and I are working closely with the Governors, and this will continue. A decision by me, in conjunction with the Governors and input from others, will be made shortly!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2020
In spite of Trump’s claims, state governors are collectively going about the business of opening up their states in a framework that best fits their region’s specific needs:
Today, California Governor Gavin Newsom, Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced an agreement on a shared vision for reopening their economies and controlling COVID-19 into the future…
…In the coming weeks, the West Coast will flip the script on COVID-19 – with our states acting in close coordination and collaboration to ensure the virus can never spread wildly in our communities.
We are announcing that California, Oregon and Washington have agreed to work together on a shared approach for reopening our economies – one that identifies clear indicators for communities to restart public life and business.
While each state is building a state-specific plan, our states have agreed to the following principles as we build out a West Coast framework: Our residents’ health comes first…Health outcomes and science – not politics – will guide these decisions…Our states will only be effective by working together.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with the northeastern governors of New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Delaware, on Monday announced a regional effort to eventually reopen the economy in a “coordinated way” amid the coronavirus crisis…
During their news conference, Cuomo announced that states will begin to coordinate efforts to reopen society. As for the timeframe of reopening, Cuomo said: “It has to be weeks.”
“We should start looking forward to ‘reopening’, but reopening with a plan and a smart plan because if you do it wrong, it can backfire,” Cuomo said during the event. “What the art form is going to be here is doing that smartly and doing that productively and doing that in a coordinated way — in coordination with other states in the area and doing it as a cooperative effort where we learn from each other where we share information, share resources, where we share intelligence.”
He added: “No one has done this before—it’s one step forward after research and consultation with experts–I’m not a public health expert but this has to be informed by experts.”
Cuomo said that each state will name an economic developer and a health official that will be led by each governor’s chief of staff to “form a working group that will start work immediately on designing a reopening plan,” while taking into consideration “the public health concerns and issues and the economic reactivation issues and concerns.”
Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island pointed out that “The reality is this virus doesn’t care about state borders, and our response shouldn’t either.”
Peter Navarro, the White House trade adviser argued that a continuing shutdown could be more harmful to the U.S. than the virus itself:
“It’s disappointing that so many of the medical experts and pundits pontificating in the press appear tone deaf to the very significant losses of life and blows to American families that may result from an extended economic shutdown,” Mr. Navarro said in an interview.
“Instead, they piously preen on their soap boxes speaking only half of the medical truth without reference or regard for the other half of the equation,” he said, “which is the very real mortal dangers associated with the closure of the economy for an extended period.”
As to the president’s powers, this was Trump on April 10, discussing pesky things like “federalist” (Can we can assume he was referring to Federalism?) and “the Constitution,” and his belief that he can overrule governors who defy him:
I like to allow governors to make decisions without overruling them, because from a constitutional standpoint, that’s the way it should be done. If I disagreed, I would overrule a governor, and I have that right to do it. But I’d rather have them — you can call it “federalist,” you can call it “the Constitution,” but I call it “the Constitution.” I would rather have them make their decisions.
It’s exhausting to have to closely scrutinize whatever Trump says, but in this case, it seems pretty obvious – especially the part about it not mattering to him whether something is Constituionally correct or not, because that would be consistent with the Trump we know:
Make no mistake: this tweet [Trump’s at top of post] isn’t “ignorant.” It sets up the premise to blame governors who “disobey” Trump’s call to reopen the country when he does it. It sows confusion and stokes anger at people other than himself. Doesn’t matter if it’s constitutionally correct.
As to whether Trump has the authority to override state and local orders:
No. Under our constitutional system, states have the power and responsibility for maintaining public order and safety. As we’ve seen since the outbreak began, decisions about limiting social interactions by ordering people to shelter in place, closing businesses and shutting schools are being made by governors and local officials. Those same officials will make the call about when to ease up. Trump’s comments “are just advisory.
At today’s press conference, Trump was asked, “What provision in the Constitution gives the President the power to open or close state economies?” Trump replied that there were “numerous provisions” that did so. He also stated that, when states closed their businesses and restaurants, he “let that happen…”
UPDATE: Here is a clip of President Trump from today’s press conference, claiming that a president’s “authority is total”:
President Trump: "When somebody's the president of the United States, the authority is total." pic.twitter.com/ZqM7VqswA5
— The Hill (@thehill) April 13, 2020
So. Trump said “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total.”
This is antithetical to everything conservatives have argued for 50 years.
POTUS cannot take away your free speech or your 2nd amendment rights. He doesn’t have the authority to tell you to stay home or leave home. He doesn’t have authority to tell states to tell you to either — and if he managed it, it would require Congressional authorization.
The Trump praetorians will circle around to the fact that Trump ultimately said something about a “situation like this.” Okay. The president still doesn’t have the authority to close restaurants, schools or Churches OR OPEN THEM. He doesn’t have those police powers.
And if any conservative — including Mike Pence who’s dancing as I type this — says POTUS has anything like those powers they are violating vast swaths of what conservatives claimed to believe before Trump became president.
This is what the “conservatism” under Trump looks like. Will any conservatives in Congress push back on this nonsense? Or should we expect to hear the familar, empty sound of…crickets?