New Jersey Gov. Phillip Murphy–who calls recreational pot-smoking “the civil rights issue of our time,” who’s hot to trot for assisted suicide–told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that a basic consideration of the Bill of Rights is “above my pay grade” (https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/above-my-pay-grade-new-jersey-governor-claims-bill-of-rights-did-not-factor-into-his-coronavirus-executive-orders).
Carlson was asking him about one of his executive orders that resulted in the arrest of 15 worshipers at a synagogue–exercising their First Amendment right of free exercise of religion–and Murphy answered “[I] wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this.”
Even if you believe these executive orders are absolutely necessary to cope with a medical emergency, does it follow that the Bill of Rights is just… a luxury? Well, yeah, freedoms are okay, but it’s not like we need ’em or anything.
I mean, he could have said, “Well, of course I thought of the Bill of Rights and I didn’t take this step lightly: I was responding to an emergency. I felt I had to do it.”
We are talking elementary civics here–the kind of thing everybody used to learn in junior high school. It was not above a governor’s pay grade. The Bill of Rights is foundational to our country’s entire legal system. To ignore it, to trample on it, is to weaken all the laws. As Mr. Pot-Head Governor is duty-bound to know!
Are we going to have to go through this quarantine rigmarole every time there’s a disease on the loose, from now on? Well, that would be always, because there’s always some germ or other looking to infect us.
So that’s another thing this experience has taught us: We need to tighten up and make much more specific the rules defining what powers governors or mayors may invoke and exercise to deal with an emergency. As we have seen in several states, we just can’t trust them to make it up as they go along.