New York Governor Andrew Cuomo threatened the White House with a federal lawsuit on Tuesday, warning President Trump against issuing an order requiring states to “open for business” before experts agree that the threat of a second coronavirus peak has passed.
Trump said, in a Monday press conference on the coronavirus epidemic, that he possesses “total” authority to require states to reopen their economies — a position that most experts agree runs contrary to Constitutional protections in place for states. The president said that if things do not come online quickly, he may step in to force states to drop lockdown orders and allow residents to engage in commerce.
It’s not clear what prompted Trump to declare power over coronavirus lockdowns; most states have extended their “shelter-in-place” orders until at least May 1st, and Trump has yet to roll out a White House plan on the matter.
Cuomo is one of several governors rolling out plans charting a course for residents to return to work, and he largely agrees with Trump that, to preserve both the local and national economy, states should live coronavirus lockdowns as soon as possible (though many of the CDC’s “social distancing” recommendations would remain in place).
But, Cuomo says, he won’t be forced to make changes.
“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,” Cuomo told CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday morning. “And we would have a constitutional challenge between the state and the federal government and that would go into the courts and that would be the worst possible thing he could do at this moment.”
“We have the Tenth Amendment that is explicit,” Cuomo said. “Certain responsibilities are state responsibilities. Health, welfare, quarantine, those are health responsibilities. So the president should not even think of going there.”
Cuomo also noted that Trump’s Monday statements run counter to earlier messages from the White House, which gave governors leeway to determine when their states could begin to return to normal: “You know the first position, he stepped back and said it’s up to the states. This is stepping forward and trying to step over the states which is, frankly, I think more partisan, more divisive, and more dangerous.”
Trump did not take well to Cuomo’s response and suggested on Twitter that Cuomo was trying to spark a “mutiny” among Democratic governors.
“Tell the Democrat Governors that ‘Mutiny On The Bounty’ was one of my all time favorite movies. A good old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain. Too easy!” Trump tweeted.
“Cuomo’s been calling daily, even hourly, begging for everything, most of which should have been the state’s responsibility, such as new hospitals, beds, ventilators, etc.,” Trump added, going after Cuomo specifically. “I got it all done for him, and everyone else, and now he seems to want Independence! That won’t happen!”