(HOOVER INSTITUTION) -- As losses mount throughout the economy due to the coronavirus quarantines, President Trump suggested that he wants the nation “to be opened up and just raring to go by Easter.” He has since stepped away from that proposal and issued guidelines that lockdowns stay in place until the end of April. But Trump still seems to be more optimistic than many state governors in his hope that the U.S. will return to normal economic activity sooner rather than later.
But even if Trump were to issue a declaration re-opening American businesses, a nationwide compliance would remain beyond his power. The Constitution’s system of federalism reserves the authority to lift the quarantine orders in the same people who issued them in the first place: the state governors.
Because state government sits closer to the people, we can and should demand more immediate transparency and accountability of our officials for these draconian, potentially devastating policies. They may impede the spread of the disease, but we cannot tell if this comes at an acceptable cost because neither governors Gavin Newsom nor Andrew Cuomo have explained how they made the cost-benefit trade-off involved. They risk judicial intervention or, ultimately, popular rejection, should they continue to keep shutting down their economies without justified benefits.
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