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Cuomo: He's Not 'King Trump'

New York governor says he would defy a presidential order to reopen state
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2020 9:10 AM CDT

(Newser) – A fight between President Trump and various governors over the easing of coronavirus restrictions appears to be on the horizon. On Monday, Trump insisted that he can order states to reopen for business when he sees fit. "The president of the United States calls the shots," he said at his daily news briefing. "They can’t do anything without the approval of the president of the United States," he added, referring to governors. But on Tuesday, one prominent governor disagreed. Coverage:

  • Andrew Cuomo: New York's governor pushed back hard against the president's claim of authority in a CNN interview, reports the Daily News. “We don’t have a King Trump, we have a President Trump,” Cuomo said. “If he ordered me to reopen in a way that would endanger the public health of the people of my state, I wouldn’t do it.” The governor predicted a "constitutional challenge" if Trump pressed the case. "The worst possible thing he could do at this moment would be to act dictatorial and to act in a partisan, divisive way." (Cuomo is one of a number of East and West Coast governors who have pledged to coordinate their reopenings.)

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  • The question: On Monday, Trump said the Constitution gave him authority over the states. "Numerous provisions” gave him the right, he said, though he did not name them. "When somebody’s the president of the United States, the authority is total," he said. Breitbart News suggests that Trump could make the case under the Constitution's commerce clause, and a pro-Trump attorney tells CNN that could fly "in the emergency context" of the pandemic.
  • Another view: The AP doesn't think the president has a winning case: "Trump can use his bully pulpit to pressure states to act or threaten them with consequences, but the Constitution gives public health and safety responsibilities primarily to state and local officials." At the National Review, Berkeley law prof John Yoo agrees. "The Constitution’s grant of limited, enumerated powers to the national government does not include the right to regulate either public health or all business in the land," he writes. "Congress enjoys the authority to 'regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States.' This gives Washington, D.C. an important, yet supporting, role in confronting the pandemic."
  • Either way: As the fight unfolds, one safe bet is that "widespread confusion" could result, per an analysis at the New York Times. "Conflicting orders by Washington and state capitals would leave businesses and workers in the untenable position of trying to decide which level of government to listen to when it comes to reopening doors and returning to their jobs."
  • More coming: Trump is expected provide more details Tuesday. Specifically, he is expected to name the advisers who will help him decide the specifics of lifting the shutdown in various parts of the country, reports NPR.
(Read more President Trump stories.)

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