President Donald Trump has faced steep criticism this week after he claimed, with no legal basis whatsoever, that he has “total authority” over when states get their economies going again after the steep social distancing measures enacted to help stem the spread of the Coronavirus. On Tuesday, the day after Trump’s completely ridiculous remarks, Reps. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), and Justin Amash (I-Mich.) jointly introduced a simple, one-sentence resolution in the House of Representatives directly asserting, quite simply, that Trump was wrong.
The resolution reads:
‘The House of Representatives affirms that when someone is the president of the United States, their authority is not total.’
In a rant to reporters at a Monday press conference, Trump had asserted:
‘When somebody’s president of the United States, the authority is total, and that’s the way it’s got to to be. It’s total. It’s total, and the governors know that.’
That is not correct, and there is no basis anywhere in U.S. law for Trump to claim as much. Hundreds of years of U.S. legal precedent stretching all the way back to the establishment of the U.S. Constitution itself have enacted the separation of powers across all levels of government. Trump’s authority is not total; he does not know what he’s doing.
I hope just one reporter asks Trump: “please explain how you have total authority but take no responsibility?”
That not just oxymoronic . . . it’s plain old moronic.
— Glenn Kirschner (@glennkirschner2) April 14, 2020
This Tuesday, Malinowski commented:
‘I introduced this one-sentence House resolution this morning, with @RepDeanPhillips and @justinamash. We can only pass things with unanimous consent these days, so I’m curious if anyone will object.’
We can only pass things with unanimous consent these days, so I'm curious if anyone will object. pic.twitter.com/2MQKSAgIaQ
— Tom Malinowski (@Malinowski) April 14, 2020
Although no Republicans were among the resolution’s initial backers, it’s worth noting that even some GOP’ers spoke out against the president’s remarks.
Republican Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), for instance — an ardent conservative — tweeted:
‘The constitution doesn’t allow the federal gov’t to become the ultimate regulator of our lives because they wave a doctor’s note. Powers not delegated are RESERVED to states & the PEOPLE. If we dispense with constitutional restraints, we will have more to worry about than a virus.’
It took Trump basically declaring himself a dictator to move Paul to even tweet something, but whatever works!
The constitution doesn’t allow the federal gov’t to become the ultimate regulator of our lives because they wave a doctor’s note. Powers not delegated are RESERVED to states & the PEOPLE. If we dispense with constitutional restraints, we will have more to worry about than a virus
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) April 14, 2020
Over in the U.S. House, top Republican Liz Cheney also spoke out. She tweeted succinctly:
‘The federal government does not have absolute power. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” United States Constitution, Amendment X’
The federal government does not have absolute power.
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” United States Constitution, Amendment X
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) April 13, 2020
Perhaps more pressingly, a slew of governors around the country including New York’s Andrew Cuomo have indicated they’re prepared to defy any so-called orders from the president for them to reopen their economy and potentially expose people to the virus.
ANDREW CUOMO: "The president said last night he has total authority for determining how and when states reopen. That is not an accurate statement, in my opinion … we do not have a King in this country." pic.twitter.com/cQWP80GYdw
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 14, 2020
Will any of these concerns come to a head, or is this spectacle nothing more than yet another instance of Trump’s endless self-confident gusto? Who knows. If the economy reopens before authorities have a chance to amass the resources to get the virus under control, the virus could spread even farther than before and there could be more unnecessary deaths – although that hasn’t stopped Trump from trumpeting premature reopening plans in the past.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: "His proclamation is that he would be king. That's what a king is. A king has total authority. That statement cannot stand." pic.twitter.com/gcJfEeKryY
— The Hill (@thehill) April 14, 2020