On Wednesday evening, Fox News host Tucker Carlson confronted New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy about his executive order banning religious services in the state during the coronavirus crisis, an order that resulted in 15 men being arrested for congregating at a synagogue earlier this month. The Democratic governor responded by defending his severe order and openly admitting that he “wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this.”
‘The Bill of Rights, as you well know, protects Americans’ rights — enshrines their right to practice their religion as they see fit and to congregate together to assemble peacefully,” Carlson reminded Gov. Murphy on his show Wednesday, as reported by Fox News.
The First Amendment specifies that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
“By what authority did you nullify the Bill of Rights in issuing this order?” Carlson asked Murphy. “How do you have the power to do that?”
“That’s above my pay grade, Tucker,” said the governor. “I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this … we looked at all the data and the science and it says people have to stay away from each other. That is the best thing we can do to break the back of the curve of this virus, that leads to lower hospitalization and ultimately fatalities.”
Clearly unsatisfied with Murphy’s response, Carlson pressed again. “Since you are an elected official, a leader in the government, an executive, how do you have the authority to order something that so clearly contravenes the Bill of Rights of the United States – the U.S. Constitution – where do you get the authority to do that?” he asked.
“We know we need to stay away from each other, number one,” Murphy replied. “Number two, we do have broad authority within the state. And number three, we would never do that without coordinating, discussing, and hashing it out with the variety of the leaders of the faiths of New Jersey.” The governor went on to claim that he spoke with multiple religious leaders, including Newark Archbishop Joseph Cardinal Tobin.
Tucker Carlson asks New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy where he got the authority to nullify the Bill of rights when he banned religious services in his state:
"I wasn't thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this… The science says people have to stay away from each other." pic.twitter.com/DPQ5d2DFl2
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) April 16, 2020
Like many states, New Jersey has mandated closure of businesses, organizations, and activities deemed “non-essential.” As a result, the national economy has begun to collapse, with now 22 million Americans filing for unemployment over a span of just four weeks, an unprecedented development.
In response, a backlash has begun to grow in many states, particularly those where officials have been deemed to have “overreached” their authority and violated constitutionally protected rights.
In Michigan, where the backlash is particularly strong over Democratic. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s severe executive order shutting down most of the economy and making access to some goods difficult for residents, four sheriffs have declared that they will not enforce some of the restrictions, citing their duty to serve as the “last line of defense in protecting your civil liberties.”