Perspective | Trump’s ‘corona-federalism’ pits states against each other. It’s a disaster.

The president blames states for the federal government’s failings.

4/9/2020 9:22:00 AM

Perspective: Trump’s 'corona-federalism' pits states against each other. It’s a disaster.

The president blames states for the federal government’s failings.

federalgovernment about who can and cannot enter the country. Third is the Constitution’s similar provision to the federal government of the power to“regulate Commerce … among the several States,”which ensures one state alone cannot disrupt the flow of people and thus infringe on the federal government’s exclusive power over interstate commerce. All told, it is a bizarre brand of federalism indeed that has the federal government indulging the actions of a state like Florida that appear to trample on key authorities belonging to the federal government.

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The traditional kind of federalism can have an upside in the pandemic. As the federal government has denied the threat of the coronavirus outbreak and utterly failed to respond, a laudable form of “homeland security federalism” is emerging. Forward-looking governors and mayors are stepping up and doing more to protect their residents than the federal government.

Consider governors such asNew York’s Andrew M. Cuomo(D), Ohio’s Mike DeWine (R) and Maryland’s Larry Hogan (R), as well as mayors such as D.C.’s Muriel E. Bowser (D): Their rhetoric and, in some cases, exercise of legal authorities have accelerated the type of social distancing that can flatten the curve and give America’s health infrastructure a better chance to handle the intense demand made of it. States are showing lifesaving generosity to each other, with Washington sending ventilators to New York, where they are desperately needed. California is also calling for states to organize to jointly acquire personal protective equipment rather than to bid against one another.

ADADUltimately, Trump’s unprecedented corona-federalism raises a fundamental question of what leadership the American people should expect from their president — as head of theUnited Statesgovernment — in a crisis. This is the same question raised by the puzzling answers given first by White House adviser Jared Kushner and then by Trump about for whom

the federal stockpile of medical resourcesis intended, if not the very states that make up our nation and their residents. When faced with crises, the best of our past presidents have united Americans, as hard as that can be amid widespread fear and suffering. But Trump shows a different instinct: to divide us and pit us against one another. That’s not federalism any legal scholar would recognize. That’s Trump’s own corona-federalism.

Read more: The Washington Post »

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