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NJ Gov Phil Murphy ‘Wasn’t Thinking of the Bill Of Rights’ When He Ordered Coronavirus Social Distancing Rules Against Mass Religious Gatherings

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D-NJ) said he “wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights” when he issued social distancing orders that barred mass religious gatherings to stop the possible community transmission of the coronavirus.

Murphy made his comments Wednesday night on Tucker Carlson Tonight explaining how his decision prioritized immediate action to be taken to stop the outbreak in a state that has become a the second-largest hotspot in the nation for Covid-19.

“So, you made that decision, and as I noted before, 15 congregants at a synagogue in New Jersey were arrested and charged for being in a synagogue together,” Carlson said. “Now, the Bill of Rights, as you well know, protects Americans, enshrines their right to practice their religion as they see fit and congregate together to assemble peacefully.”

“By what authority did you nullify the Bill of Rights in issuing this order? How do you have the power to do that?” the Fox News host then asked.

“That’s above my pay grade, Tucker,” the governor fired back. “So, I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this. We went to all — first of all, we went to the scientists who said people have to stay away from each other.”

Carlson interjected: “I can tell” at the Murphy’s comment about the Bill of Rights.

Murphy elaborated: “That’s the best thing we can do to break the back of the curve of this virus that leads to lower hospitalization and ultimately fatalities.”

Re-phrasing the question, Carlson upped the ante and outright claimed that Murphy’s decree was unconstitutional: “How do you have the authority to order something that so clearly contravenes the Bill of Rights of the United States? The U.S. Constitution, where do you get the authority to do that?”

“Well, here is the thing. We know we need to stay away from each other, number one. Number two, we do have broad authority within the state,” Murphy said, alluding to the fact that churches, synagogues, and mosques must regularly comply with numerous state and local ordinances like fire codes, which also put public safety limits on how religious groups congregate. “Number three, we would never do that without coordinating, discussing, and hashing it out with the leaders, the variety of the leaders of the faith of New Jersey. We are among, if not the most diverse state…”

Not satisfied with that nuanced answer, Carlson asked the governor the same question for the third time.

“There is a deeper question here…I’m just going to ask you one last time because it’s important. I’m sure you’ve thought about this. You can’t just come as the governor of a state, tell people who they can talk to when and where because the Constitution of the United States upon which all of this is based prohibits you from doing that, so you clearly decided that you could do it,” the Fox News host riffed.

“Did you consult an attorney about this customer because this is a legal question as well as a medical one, isn’t it?” Carlson asked.

“I don’t go to the men’s room without consulting an attorney, so I guarantee you we did that,” Murphy joked ahead of sharing a story about how he called up Newark, N.J. Cardinal Joe Tobin to voice concern about the risk of drive-through Holy Communion, which the governor noted had led to an outbreak via an asymptomatic priest in one community — precisely the threat that he was warning about.

Watch above, via Fox News.

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