Trump doesn’t have the power to reopen businesses by Easter, legal experts say

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DENVER (KDVR) — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he wants businesses to start opening by Easter. Public health officials do not share the president’s optimism of returning to normalcy by then.

Legally, there’s not much Trump can do to force an end of widespread business closures. To save lives, health officials say closures are needed, but Trump is getting more restless with the economic turmoil.

“We want to get our country open as soon as possible,” the president said on Tuesday. 

In a statement, Gov. Jared Polis said, in part, “I’m not sure I share President Trump’s optimism about the exact date, but it’s a good goal and we all share a desire to get past this as quickly as we can."

Across the country, governors and mayors are the ones who have closed businesses and the 10th Amendment to the Constitution guarantees they will be the ones to reopen them.

“Under our Constitution, states have all this authority that’s not granted explicitly to the federal government,” said Robert Preuhs, chairman of Metropolitan State University of Denver’s political science department. “The president has very limited power in terms of actually forcing states to do something like open their doors again.”

But Preuhs says the power of the bully pulpit could be Trump’s card. Trump is trying to mold public opinion to support his wishful thinking.

“If you try alternative facts and alternative reality — it isn’t going to work where nature is at work as well,” said Don Mayer, University of Denver professor of business ethics and legal studies. “Most of the times they talk about presidential power, it’s to impose a quarantine, not to lift one.”

Mayer agrees Trump can’t do much. If Trump attempted a national order to open businesses, governors and mayors would be on solid legal ground to not comply.

“It would be very disorderly if some businesses started operating and others didn’t — saying 'I’m listening to the president' while others say 'I’m listening to the governor,'" Mayer said.

The president also said he will be relying on data and the advice of doctors like Anthony Fauci before encouraging businesses to reopen by Easter.

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