Infuriating is one word for Joe Biden’s final, arrogant, self-righteous, knowingly false attempt to pin COVID-19 on President Trump. Most Americans know the facts. Missing may be the legal, foreign policy, and operational context. So here it is – because it matters.
Most Americans know the bat-incubated coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 was humanly altered and came from China. Most know the virus originated – almost without question – from an experimental lab in Wuhan, China. Arguments persists as to whether the virus was humanly altered to advance medicine or for use as a potential bioweapon.
Similarly, while China – and China’s economy – suffered a downtick from release of this virulent, artificial virus, the global economic impact has been devastating. Whether accidentally released or part of a plan, the effect has been to elevate China’s economy relative to the US and European economies. Today, China’s economy is “surging,” while others struggle. See, e.g., https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/18/business/china-economy-covid.html?name=undefined&label=Coronavirus+Markets&block=&impression_id=39f52c00-1273-11eb-87fc-e32b14d07b71.
In short, most Americans know the US economy is – to the extent governors allow reopening – starting to recover, but China used the virus to widen trade imbalances, in effect benefiting from the virus they started.
Moreover, China not only created and released the devastating virus, but hid material facts –becoming a proximate cause, together with the WHO, in spread of COVID-19 globally. In effect, China set the tinder, lit the match, and fanned the fire – that has now killed 1.15 million people globally.
None of this is Trump’s fault. More to the point, Trump was roundly excoriated by Democrats for stopping flights from China to the US, then halting flights from intermediary and infected countries. These were acts of executive leadership, unprecedented. He did that in January.
Next understand that China’s duplicity was just a first cause. In the US, while deaths are 172 per 100,000, and there are – contrary to Democrat arguments – no indications that those 172 are not fully insured or covered by trillions in congressional relief, the number of dead was directly affected by governors mismanaging this disease.
Specifically, five Democrat governors account for most of the US deaths. Here is how. Governor Cuomo in New York, Newsom in California, Wolf in Pennsylvania, Murphy in New Jersey, and Whitmer in Michigan each issued orders – under their respective State authorities – diverting older COVID-19 patients into otherwise largely uninfected nursing homes. See, e.g., www.thegatewaypundit.com/2020/08/five-democrat-governors-behind-tens-thousands-coronavirus-deaths-sent-covid-19-patients-nursing-homes/.
Doing so under State authority, these governors materially contributed to 45 percent of all US COVID deaths. These Democrat governors’ forced diversion of infected COVID patients into their states’ nursing homes is estimated to have caused or contributed to 73,000 COVID deaths.
This specific public health failure – but these governors – or mismanagement of the disease at the State level was so obvious, preventable, and extreme that the US Department of Justice is investigating these governors for acting in ways that may have violated federal law. See, e.g., https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/aug/26/democrat-governors-sending-covid-patients-nursing-/.
But now come to the real point – the third big point. President Trump has not said the obvious – but he ought to finally say the obvious. The reason that he has not federally mandated a broader economic shutdown, social distancing, use of masks, or any other federally-driven action in this pandemic – is the 10th Amendment.
This is a fact. President Trump respects the 10th Amendment – which unequivocally leaves certain prerogatives to State governors, State legislatures, and “The People,” by constitutional directive.
Where Biden and Harris say they would federally mandate all sorts of human behaviors – from closing whole sectors of the economy to mask wearing outside – by exercising federal control and authority, the US Constitution makes clear that this is not permissible.
President Trump and his legal team know this – which is why they have acted to “support” State decision-makers (in all states) and especially governors but have not mandated what Biden-Harris say they would federally mandate. Trump respects the 10t Amendment – and the Constitution at large, which limits federal power.
Look more closely, and you will see exactly what is happening. The 10th Amendment to the Bill of Rights – that vital limit on federal government – was ratified 229 years ago, in 1791. It had one purpose – preventing overextension of federal power, preventing an erosion of powers better left to the States and to “The People.” Without it, the Constitution would not have been ratified.
The 10th Amendment reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” And what powers were delegated? Only those in respective Articles of the Constitution, which do not include any delegation to the President to shut down the US economy, interfere with public assemblies, or eviscerate other amendments to the Constitution.
In short, the 10th Amendment was designed to protect the States and the People from federal overreach – and President Trump knows and respects that, while Biden-Harris do not.
Trump’s lawyers know that, reflecting language in Article II of the original Articles of Confederation – which predated our Constitution and Bill of Rights – the States were each allowed to retain a wide degree of self-governance, or sovereignty, freedom and power to protect public health and safety as they saw fit. The Federal government was not allowed to intercede.
Ironically, many founders thought a future Federal Government would never be so bold as to trample on basic rights of a state to protect its people as it saw fit – but others had foresight. Thus, encouraged by James Madison, they included the 10th Amendment in the Constitution. As one commentary noted, “the amendment rendered unambiguous what had previously been at most a mere suggestion or an implication.”
Not only has Trump continued to honor this vital Amendment – as Biden-Harris appear ready to eviscerate it with federal COVID mandates – but federal courts are on Trump’s side. While federal regulations are allowed, in areas expressly or implicitly delegated to the Federal Government by the Constitution, broad usurpation of undelegated powers is not.
Thus, States are permitted to maintain sovereignty or control over certain public health and safety functions, especially in a case where – without State control – the result would be that the State was left “politically isolated and powerless.” Federal mandates affecting commerce, assembly, public health, and how people could interact outside would be classic overreach.
Moreover, the Supreme Court has declared that the 10th Amendment can be violated where the Federal Government compels a State to enforce federal statutes, where harm can result to the State’s citizens from doing so. Thus, support, incentives and public prodding are permitted – where mandates that would adversely affect the State are not. Again, Trump’s team respects federal law. See, e.g., South Dakota v. Dole (opinion written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor).
Even in cases where the federal government believes it is doing good, such as the Brady Handgun Act, the Supreme Court has drawn a line – if State and local officials are forced to act in ways that hurt the people of the State, the 10th Amendment is violated. Such mandates are unconstitutional. See, e.g., Printz v. US.
Even the traditionally broad ambit given to the so-called “Commerce Clause,” has been pulled back in the past 30 years. Thus, federal laws mandating “gun free zones” around public schools were found to violate the 10th Amendment. See, e.g., US v. Lopez.
In short, blaming President Trump for not foreseeing, preempting, or suspecting China’s bad faith and acts, not making decisions that overruled Democrat governors who – against the interests of their citizens – endangered public health, and for not crushing the 10th Amendment – and acting against Supreme Court precedent – is absurd.
The truth is that President Trump has addressed the COVID pandemic within constraints of established US foreign policy, established respect for both States’ rights and governors of both parties, and in accord with the 10th Amendment. That Biden-Harris fault him for acting responsibly – tells us how they would act. Infuriating is one word for it. Scary is another.