NJ Gov Murphy’s Lockdown: 'I Wasn’t Thinking Of The Bill of Rights'

P. Gardner Goldsmith | April 16, 2020

On Wednesday, April 15, FoxNews host Tucker Carlson gave voice to many Americans' questions when he pressed Democrat New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy to scientifically and constitutionally justify his seemingly arbitrary lockdowns of businesses, police busts of peaceful religious gatherings, and arrests of solitary beachgoers.

Governor Murphy’s replies were less than substantive. Some might even call them flip and fueled by political conceit.

First, Carlson inquired about the “scientific” rationales Murphy claims prompted him to “determine” that liquor stores (which provide a lot of tax cash for the state) were “essential”, thus allowing gathering within their walls.

Murphy noted that he and his government friends “relied on a whole lotta input – reasonable input -- from recovery coaches, addiction coaches, and they cautioned us that if we shut those down we’d have unintended mental health, uh, consequences to pay…”

But this prompted Carlson to ask the next logical question, again, on the practical side:

But you have closed church services and synagogue services and arrested people for attempting to attend them. Did anyone say that, maybe, practicing (one’s) faith may be important to someone’s mental health?

Murphy’s answer was, as lawyers put it, non-responsive. He mentioned talking to “faith leaders” from those clichés of belief “communities” and talked about social distancing and face coverings, and then he offered this almost perfectly political nonsense statement:

There’s an enormous amount of faith going on virtually right now, a lot of practicing goin’ on, and we care deeply about both physical health and mental health.

Obviously, that wasn’t quite satisfying to Carlson, so he pressed on what scientific basis the Governor might offer for the distinction between shutting down churches, while leaving booze markets open. The Governor did not provide one.

So Tucker approached the arbitrariness of Murphy’s diktats along a different factual vector, noting:

A man was arrested for sitting alone on a beach. Tell me why that poses a danger, and, again, on what scientific basis did you make that decision.

Murphy offered no scientific basis. So, again, Carlson had to press him, and in his question, he imparted the image of potentially “infected” cops breaking the “six-foot barrier” to arrest a lone person on an empty beach.

Arresting someone for sitting alone on a beach. Tell me how that arrests the spread of the coronavirus, from an epidemiological point of view.

And Murphy had to admit defeat.

Yeah, I wasn’t referring to that. I actually don’t have the specifics as to why that happened.

Of course, the practical side is always going to be debated as long as the government is involved and as long as people have different takes on the science, the data, and the best way to address risk.

The more fundamental questions remained, and those have to do with essential human rights. Thankfully, Carlson had those ready, asking this most important of American – in fact, human – questions, specifically pertaining to police in NJ arresting fifteen visitors at a synagogue:

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?

Murphy admitted what we already knew.

That’s above my pay-grade, Tucker. I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this.

Heck. Not only is this NOT above Murphy’s “pay grade” (salary extracted from taxpayers), it is supposedly what his position is all about. It’s the focus of his oath of office – to protect and defend the US and NJ constitutions. And if Murphy were considering the Bill of Rights, he’d wonder if maybe, just maybe, his edicts contravene the “Takings Clause” of the Fifth Amendment, the same Amendment’s prohibition of punishment without due process of law, the Sixth Amendment’s supposed assurance of a “speedy trial” before a jury, the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment (with no real criminal activity, any punishment is both unusual and cruel), and the Fourteenth Amendment’s reiteration of the standard of “due process of law”.

And Murphy isn’t alone. As I mentioned earlier this week, many governors are engaging in this kind of attack on rights.

To put it simply for all of them…

If politicians can tell us that the potential of spreading a harmful pathogen gives them the power to stop us from gathering in public places, that they can shut down the private establishments where we work and shop, that they can stop gatherings at private homes -- where's the cut-off? The practical side of that question tells us that since, at any given time -- even times of simple flu -- the government doesn't know who is infected, meaning they must assume we are ALL potential carriers, does that mean they can shut down all of the public (tax supported) places any time, all the time?

And since, in 1946, the Supreme Court erroneously said that private property is actually “public”, no different in their eyes than land on which all taxpayers’ money is showered, does the same go for businesses and homes?

What if ONE person might die by being bumped into on a sidewalk, or in a park? Will the government permanently close those, or mandate "social distancing" and fine people for walking "too close"?

This series of thoughts and questions requires us to see the distinction between private property and public property and recognize the "elephant" that's been "in the room" since government in the US began running roads, parks, certain buildings, and "open spaces" and then it began encroaching on private businesses.

The Bill of Rights was written to stop that kind of arbitrary government attack on liberty, both on real “public” property, and in private homes, businesses, and religious houses.

It’s a shame Governor Murphy and many others aren’t familiar with the document.