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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy defended near-lockdown orders in his state and said he “wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights” when he issued them.
The Democratic governor was confronted by Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Wednesday about his sweeping directives and how he even allowed arrests to be made recently at religious services.
(Source: Fox News/YouTube)
Murphy contended that there would be no economic recovery for his state without a “complete, or near-complete health care recovery,” defending his remarks from a press conference earlier in which he stated that he didn’t expect to see “normal” gatherings “in the foreseeable future.”
Murphy issued a series of executive orders last month that essentially shut down the state which is second in the nation only to New York in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with more than 71,000 and with over 3,000 deaths. The governor told Carlson that more than 3 million residents would have been infected if the sweeping restrictions were not put in place.
He continued to defend his rationale for blocking a reopening of New Jersey’s economy and everyday life by aiming for “zero new infections.” He also justified allowing liquor stores, to remain open because they are considered essential while churches have been warned not to be open and hold services.
Murphy’s illegal, petty tyranny will not stand.
— Adam Baldwin (@AdamBaldwin) April 16, 2020
“On what scientific basis did you decide that sitting in a church was much more dangerous than buying liquor in a liquor store?”Carlson asked. “I don’t understand the reasoning. I don’t want to think it had anything to do with tax revenues.”
“It doesn’t have anything to do with tax revenues,” Murphy said. “Our revenues are so blown up, that would be a rounding error, trust me.”
Carlson continued to press the governor on what the “scientific” basis was for the decisions, citing the case of a man being arrested for being on the beach, even though he was alone. He went on to confront Murphy with another example, citing the much-publicized arrest of 15 men who were congregating at an Ocean County synagogue earlier this month.
‘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,” the Fox News host said. “By what authority did you nullify the Bill of Rights in issuing this order? How do you have the power to do that?”
“That’s above my pay grade, Tucker,” Murphy replied.
“I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this,” he added.
“I can tell,” Carlson quipped.
“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,” Murphy reasoned.
.@GovMurphy on @TuckerCarlson discusses his shutdown orders:”I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this…” The Governor, who seems well-meaning, reconfirms there is little rhyme, reason, science, or constitutional basis behind draconian shutdowns over #coronavirus.
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) April 16, 2020
“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?” Carlson pressed.
“Well, here’s the thing,” the governor responded. “We know we need to stay away from each other, number one. 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.”
He contended that he was not denying anyone’s right to worship, explaining that he had spoken with faith leaders in the state, but added that during a crisis like the current pandemic, “we have to find a different way to worship.”
But Carlson was not letting him off the hook, telling Murphy that “you can’t just, as the governor of a state, tell people who they can talk to when and where, because the Constitution of the United States – upon which all of this is based – prohibits you from doing that, so you clearly decided that you could do it.”
When the Fox News host asked if he had consulted an attorney before he issued his orders, Murphy shot back, “I don’t go to the men’s room without consulting an attorney.”
We’ve taken among the most-aggressive positions of any state in America to slow the spread of #COVID19.
We’ve asked you to make tremendous sacrifices with us in this fight.
Some of them may seem like nuisances, but every step we’ve taken has been made out of sheer necessity.
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) April 15, 2020
Following the heated exchange, Carlson pressed Murphy about the more than half a million New Jersey residents who have applied for unemployment since the restrictions started.
“How much does that weigh on you — that the suffering this lockdown has caused might equal or perhaps outweigh what the virus does?” Carlson asked.
Murphy admitted that “it weighs heavily,” adding “and you ask yourself every day: Are you making the right decision?”
He explained that the state will continue to “make every call based on the facts, the data, the science as best we can” and that “the alternative” would have been worse.
“Had we stepped back and let this virus run amok, 3-plus million people in our state would have been infected, and the healthcare system would have had no chance to have kept up with that, and the fatalities would have been multiple,” Murphy added.
“Each life lost is a precious life lost,” he concluded.”But the alternative would have been multiples of this.”
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