New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy admitted Wednesday that he ignored citizens’ constitutional rights when signing off on an executive order closing places of worship in response to the Wuhan coronavirus.
“Fifteen congregants at a synagogue in New Jersey were arrested and charged for being in a synagogue together,” Fox News’ Tucker Carlson explained. “The Bill of Rights as you well know protects Americans’ right, enshrines their right to practice their religion as they see fit and to congregate together to assemble peacefully. By what authority did you nullify the Bill of Rights in issuing this order?”
“That’s above my pay grade Tucker,” Murphy said. “I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this…People have to stay away from each other.”
Murphy’s comments come as other governors and mayors are under fire for their own shelter-in-place orders sparking protests.
In Greenville, Mississippi, police issued $500 fines to church members attending a drive-in Easter service. The fines drew interest from the Justice Department which announced on Tuesday it would be taking action in the case where the city’s mayor, Errick Simmons signed an executive order taking aim at churches.
“Religious liberty is a fundamental principle of enduring importance in America, enshrined in our Constitution and other sources of federal law,” Barr wrote in a memo.
Meanwhile in Louisville, the city’s Mayor Greg Fischer also tried to ban Easter drive-in church services and threatened to arrest anyone who defied his orders. A federal judge however, overruled the mayor to allow drive-in services to proceed.
“The Mayor’s decision is stunning. And it is, ‘beyond all reason,’ unconstitutional,” the judge wrote.
Further north in Michigan, thousands gathered in Lansing Wednesday to oppose Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order that bars citizens from traveling “between residences” with few exceptions.
The scene in Lansing right now as protests over @GovWhitmer's stay home order continue.
— Detroit Free Press (@freep) April 15, 2020
Whitmer’s directive also prohibits the sale of items the governor has deemed non-essential such fruit and vegetable seeds, but not lottery tickets. The order has provoked a recall petition demanding Whitmer’s removal to circulate online which has already received more than 250,000 signatures as of Thursday morning.
Four Michigan sheriffs released a joint statement Wednesday declaring they would not enforce the governor’s orders in the counties they serve in the northwest mitten.
Six Republican congressman from the state also condemned Whitmer’s order as executive overreach calling on the governor to take a different approach.
“Your latest order is far too restrictive and includes provisions that seem arbitrary and internally inconsistent… We believe there is a better approach,” they wrote in a joint letter signed by Reps. Paul Mitchell, Fred Upton, Tim Walberg, Bill Huizenga, John Moolenaar, and Jack Bergman on Tuesday.