This week’s discussion has to do with opening the economy in the context of the 10th Amendment. There is a Constitutional debate as to who has the power to make these determinations; the President or Governors. In your respective groups discuss how you would reopen the economy and your opinion as to who has the ultimate authority to do so on the state level; the President or Governors. And by “opening the economy”, we mean letting people back to work and allowing large gatherings by easing social distancing requirements. Make sure you do some epidemiological research regarding the possible spread or containment of COVID-19. Also, research the case law regarding the 10th Amendment and how it applies to this situation. Also, keep in mind that this is an election year and presidential elections are believed to be tied primarily to the health or lack thereof of the economy. So as a part of your discussion explain the impact that politics has on these decisions.
Feel free to borrow measures implemented by other nations if you feel they are prudent, but also explain why you believe they are the right course of action.
Below is a link to an article that synopsizes the tug-of-war between the President and Governors concerning opening the economy.
U.S. Constitution & Ethical
The United States is currently in a dilemma as the President struggles to contain the Coronavirus and, at the same time, trying to revive the economy. President Trump announced that he would be reopening the country’s economy soon despite measures by governors to close businesses in their counties, arguing that they cannot open this soon as this would expose their residents to contract the deadly virus (Roberts, 2020). While President Trump claimed that he would override the directive, the tenth amendment of the constitution grants states the power over commerce and civil aspects, implying that governors have the authority to make such determinations.
The Governors in the country have the authority to make determinations on when and how to open the economy. As literature shows, the tenth amendment of the U.S. Constitution empowers the states to assume total authority, especially when it comes to commerce and civil aspects, implying that the federal government cannot legally override their decisions (Bowman & Kearney, 2016). The only possible way in which the Federal government can impose authority over interstate commerce is through congress power (Bowman & Kearney, 2016). As such, the Governors should determine when their economies should be opened.
In my opinion, the best way to approach the current situation would be to open the economy in segments while coupling the action with health measures to minimize the COVID 19 infections such as sanitizing, wearing masks and maintaining the social distancing. Notably, a plan can be created on how such actions can be piloted in one state and assessed to determine their effectiveness before fully opening the economy. However, the President should also negotiate with the governors to ensure that national funds flow to states that are yet to open their economies. Negotiations would be the best option because the alternatives may cause President Trump to lose his popularity, considering that this is an election year. An instance where he withholds federal funds from states which fail to open their businesses, then the public would interpret the action as failure to protect their states and assist them as they fight the spread of COVID 19, which would negatively affect his candidacy.
Bowman, A.O.M., & Kearney, R.C. (2016). State and local government (10th ed.). Cengage Learning, ISNB:9781305388475
Roberts, J.J. (2020, April 17). Trump wants to open the economy by May 1. But what can he actually open? Fortune. Retrieved from https://fortune.com/2020/04/16/when-will-us-reopen-country-economy-trump-may-1-constitution-authority-states-governors-stores/