Fox News legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano says that President Donald Trump has no legal authority to override governors who decide not to allow religious gatherings for safety and health concerns.
Napolitano was responding on Friday to Trump’s demand that houses of worship, which he declared are providing “essential” services, “open right now.” Trump added: “I will override the governors” if they refuse to allow it.
“Does he have the power to do that?” Fox News host Dana Perino asked Napolitano.
“In a word, no,” said Napolitano. “As ill-advised as these gubernatorial orders are, as essential as is the right to worship, as fundamental as it is, as absolutely protected by the First Amendment as it is, the president does not have any authority to override the governors.”
The president “on his own, no matter well intended he may be — and I believe he’s well intended here — is without authority to do that,” Napolitano added.
Trump could, however, “dispatch” the Department of Justice to file lawsuits challenging states where a judge could “override the governors.”
Napolitano said Trump’s “threat” alone is “enough” to appeal to the president’s base.
TRUMP: “Some governors have deemed liquor stores & abortion clinics essential, but have left out churches … it’s not right. So I am correcting this injustice & am calling houses of worship essential. I call upon governors to allow churches & places of worship to open right now” pic.twitter.com/e0VU8XeLEm
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 22, 2020
Sources told Politico that Trump demanded that houses of worship reopen because of slipping poll numbers among white evangelicals and white Catholics, who have been crucial backers.
Check out Napolitano’s comments in the video above.
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