Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington has accused President Trump of supporting “illegal and dangerous acts” during the Covid-19 crisis. As a free society, our country should indeed discuss constitutional abuses of power during times of national emergency.
After World War I, for example, the Supreme Court, in Schenck v. United States, argued that restrictions on free speech were justified during wartime. But where should the line be drawn? Has President Donald Trump, by encouraging governors to close much of the American economy, gone too far? Is the Constitution in jeopardy?
If we compare President Trump’s actions with those of President Franklin Roosevelt during World War II, we can see a stark contrast in how these two men approached civil liberties during a national emergency.
President Roosevelt stomped like a herd of elephants on the civil liberties of foes, and sometimes friends, before and during World War II. This was especially true in the areas of wiretapping, income tax audits, and the internment of loyal Japanese-Americans.