Trump just claimed he had 'total authority' over lockdown – the US constitution disagrees

James Besanvalle
Tuesday 14 April 2020 08:30
news

President Donald Trump has incorrectly claimed he has “total authority” on when and how the coronavirus lockdown restrictions are lifted... but the constitution and state governors have a lot to say about it.

During the White House’s coronavirus press conference on Monday, Trump claimed the POTUS “calls the shots”.

It’s a decision for the president of the United States. Now, with that being said, we’re going to work with the states because that’s very important… You have a couple of bands of Democrat governors but they will agree to it. The authority of the President of the United States – having to deal with the subject we’re talking about – is total.

CNN White House Correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, then pressed Trump:

You said when someone is president of the United States, their authority is total. That is not true. Who told you that?

To which Trump replied:

The governors need us one way or the other because, ultimately, it comes with the federal government. That being said, we’re getting along very well with the governors and I feel very certain that there won’t be a problem.

When pressed about whether any of the governors had agreed that Trump has the authority to open up the states they govern, Trump responded:

I haven’t asked anybody. You know why? Because I don’t have to.

Well, Trump – the US constitution has something to say about that.

According to the 10th amendment, "police powers" are granted to the states to regulate behaviour during public health crises.

This means there’s resiliency in public health emergencies but there needs to be cooperation between the state and federal government.

Understandably, state governors had a lot of thoughts about the powers to run their own states being seemingly stripped away.

Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, said:

Well, seeing as how we have responsibility for closing the state down, I think we probably have the primary responsibility for opening it up.

Similarly, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, agreed:

Governor Wolf’s point is right… it is an interesting construct that it wasn’t the federal responsibility to close the economy but it is the federal government’s responsibility to open the economy. If it’s your authority to open, why isn’t it your authority to close?

Cuomo then slammed Donald Trump’s lack of “clarity” on the issue, while stating “the rules of government matter”.

New Hampshire Republican governor Chris Sununu said:

All of these executive orders are state executive orders and so therefore it would be up to the state and the governor to undo a lot of that.

While Michigan’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, stated:

The government doesn’t get opened up via Twitter. It gets opened up at the state level.

At the time of writing, the US has 587,173 confirmed coronavirus cases and sadly 23,644 people have died.

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