Is the authority total?

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President Donald J. Trump listens as a White House video plays the media’s response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) during an update briefing Monday, April 13, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. Photo credit: D. Myles Cullen/White House.

This week President Trump responded to a question about his intention to re-open the economy as soon as possible by saying his authority as president is “total.” Is he right? A day later, he started to walk back that statement, saying that he would basically authorize the states to reopen again, which he sort of has the power to do. So, okay. Not total authority. But he does have other ways to influence and pressure governors to do what he wants.

Then: Josh and Ken discuss a Kansas state supreme court decision that affirmed the governor’s order to restrict church gatherings during the pandemic. When a fundamental right is restricted, like on free speech or free exercise of religion, the government needs to have a compelling interest in doing so and a pretty tailored approach. Taken with the other restrictions and exceptions for secular institutions and businesses that are in effect because of the pandemic, is the government disfavoring religious institutions here? Ken thinks the churches have a good case here.

Plus: The Supreme Court will hear arguments over the phone in May for a number of cases scheduled for this term, including the cases seeking President Trump’s financial records and tax returns. The Trump campaign is suing a television station in Northern Wisconsin for airing an ad from the Priorities super PAC. Why this station in this state? And is the campaign right about the ad being defamatory?

Credits

Hosts:
Josh Barro, Ken White

Producer:
Sara Fay