Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that he “wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights” when he imposed social distancing orders in his state that included a ban on religious gatherings.
During a wide-ranging interview on Wednesday night’s edition of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Carlson asked Murphy about New Jersey synagogue congregants who were “arrested and charged for being in a synagogue together.”
“Now, the Bill of Rights, as you well know, protects Americans’ right, enshrines their right to practice their religion as they see fit and to congregate together, to assemble peacefully,” Carlson said. “By what authority did you nullify the Bill of Rights in issuing this order? How do you have the power to do that?”
“That’s above my pay grade, Tucker,” Murphy responded. “I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this. We went to all — first of all, we looked at the data and the science …”
“I can tell,” Carlson said.
After Murphy made a point about science showing that social distancing works, Carlson brought things back to his original question: “How do you have the authority to order something that is 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,” Murphy responded. “We know we need to stay away from each other, number one. Number two, we do have broad authority within the state. And number three, we would never do that without coordinating, discussing, and hashing it out with the leaders, the variety of the leaders of the faiths in New Jersey.”
“No, I’m sure you talk to every rabbi and priest, but there is a deeper question here,” the Fox News host said. “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 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. Did you consult an attorney about this, because this is a legal question as well as a medical one, isn’t it?”
Answering in the affirmative, Murphy related a conversation he had with a New Jersey Catholic cardinal who agreed with his position. (RELATED: ‘No Penalty For Petty Authoritarianism’: Tucker Carlson Blasts ‘Mediocre Politician’ Gretchen Whitmer’s ‘Power’ Grabs)
“We have to find a different way to worship. I think that’s the point,” said the New Jersey governor.
“Government’s not allowed to tell people how to worship,” said Carlson.