After claiming complete authority to re-open the nation’s businesses – a statement refuted by legal experts and governors of both parties – President Trump has changed course, saying he’ll authorize each state to implement its own plan.
“We don’t want to put pressure on anybody, I’m not going to put any pressure on any Governor to open,” President Trump said.
Jared Carter, a Vermont Law School professor and constitutional law expert, said the Constitution doesn’t require states to receive authorization from the president in order restart their economies or any other aspects of regular life post-COVID-19.
The states retain that power under the 10th Amendment, Carter said. “If you were to follow the precedent that exists, which is admittedly pretty old, the President has quite limited authority in this area,” he said.
In his initial comments Monday, Trump said that provisions in the Constitution give him the power to overrule Governors’ stay at home orders. Governors in both parties pushed back.
Texas’ Republican Gov. Greg Abbott cautioning against a ‘rush the gates’ situation. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, was also critical during a news conference on Tuesday.
“That statement cannot stand,” Cuomo said. “It is not only violative of the constitution, it’s violative of the very concept of democracy.”
Carter said he wasn’t surprised by the bi-partisan pushback. Politically, he said, perspective, the Republican party has traditionally been especially supportive of state’s rights. Carter said that if Trump had stood his ground, the standoff might have escalated to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“That’s likely what we’re going to see,” he said. “The U.S. Supreme Court setting precedent that will perhaps change the trajectory of the law with these sorts of issues in the future.”