JerseyGate: Phil of Wrongs vs. Bill of Rights

A tale of two cities.

In his magisterial work, The City of God, Saint Augustine of Hippo distinguished two kinds of fundamental human associations, embodying two mutually incompatible worldviews.  These associations he referred to as “cities.” They co-exist within the world. 

The first city Augustine called “the City of God” or “the Heavenly City.”  The other he referred to as “the City of Man” or “the Earthly City.”  Each city is what it is by virtue of the object of its love. 

So, the associates who constitute the City of God are united in terms of their love of God, even unto the point of contempt for self.   Conversely, it is love of self, even unto the point of contempt for God that unites the residents of the City of Man. 

The Great UnReason of 2020, the mass hysteria over COVID-19 generated by Big Government and Big Media, has brought into focus two cities that co-exist within contemporary America. 

The first city consists of those Americans who still believe in the United States Constitution.  They are united into one “city” by their love for Liberty and Rational Order and all that this entails: personal responsibility, individuality, courage, adventure (which always includes risk-taking), and a decentralized government over which power is dispersed widely. 

The City of Liberty, we may say, is made possible by its respect for the Bill or Rights.

The second city is distinguished on account of its residents’ love for, above all else, Safety.  The consolidation of governmental power, collectivism, and mental conformity—since these are recognized as indispensable to the end of Safety, they are prized by citizens of the City of Safety.

While the City of Liberty has the Bill of Rights and the rest of the Constitution, the City of Safety prefers instead the Phil of Wrongs.

While Phil Murphy was on Fox News recently, Tucker Carlson asked the Governor of the Garden State—and self-avowed leader in New Jersey of “the Resistance” to President Trump—to enlighten his viewers by locating the passage or passages in the United States Constitution that authorized Murphy to, in effect, unilaterally revoke the First Amendment for the residents of his state.

Specifically, by what authority did Murphy decide to undermine the Constitutional right to the free exercise of religion by ordering all houses of worship to close?

The scandalous nature of Murphy’s response shocked the sensibilities of all who still value the document ratified by the 18th century men of genius who framed it, the document that defined America as an independent Union of States:

The Bill of Rights, Murphy calmly reassured his interviewer, “was above my paygrade.” 

Yes, Murphy, upon readily conceding that the United States Constitution, specifically, the Bill of Rights, was not a consideration for him when he resolved to end life as the residents of his state had always known it emblematized in his person the very right-wing stereotype of the anti-American “progressive” or leftist that the left is forever trying to repudiate.

Even worse, he implied to Tucker Carlson that it wasn’t a consideration for him because he doesn’t even understand it. In other words, “I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights” because “The Bill of Rights is above my pay grade.” 

Murphy, it should now be obvious to all who would but listen to the man in his own words, is an embarrassment.  He is at once ignorant and abusive.  New Jerseyans should be especially scandalized. Indeed, it is to the eternal shame of those residents of the Garden State who ever voted for him. 

However, sadly, the governor’s approval rating has skyrocketed.  He has instituted some of the most draconian measures of all of the draconian measures that have been enforced throughout the country during the era of the Great UnReason—and his approval rate has gone through the roof.

Under the pretext of preventing people from contracting a flu-like virus with a real mortality rate—which could be no more than one-tenth of one percent—comparable to that of the seasonal flu, Governor Murphy has ordered the cancellation of all live (real) religious services.

He ordered the closing of the thousands upon thousands of businesses that he deemed were not “essential.”

With these closures, he ordered the de facto termination of an exponentially greater number of formerly employed New Jersey residents—all of those who he decreed were not “essential.”

Murphy ordered the closing of all schools.

He ordered all residents to “shelter-in-place,” i.e., to confine themselves to their homes until such time as Murphy tells us otherwise.

In ordering house confinement for all residents of New Jersey, Murphy has ordered the alienation of residents from one another.  He has, in practice, ordered the indefinite suspension of friendships, families, and all of those communities that constitute the individual’s identity, enriching his life with meaning and value.  These “little platoons,” as Edmund Burke referred to them, these various associations that make each person who he is, function as “checks and balances” on the government so as to prevent the citizen from being “stripped of every relation” and left cowering in “the nakedness and solitude of metaphysical abstraction.”

Murphy, essentially, ordered the collapse of civil society.

Moreover, in ordering the wearing of masks and all other “social distance” protocols, Murphy has ordered the residents of his state to be fearful and distrustful of one another. 

It has succeeded. New Jersey is now Mask Nation.

Just as the weather began getting nicer and people began emerging from their Murphy-ordered hibernation to absorb some sunlight and get some exercise—just as they started to appropriate measures to, well, increase their health—Murphy ordered the closing of all state parks.

Murphy has ordered the arrest of, as of this writing, around 1700 citizens who dared to defy his order to observe proper “socially distancing.”   One of these outrages occurred to a brave New Jersey woman who organized a protest against Murphy’s “quarantine” excesses.

And Murphy, to his own admission on Tucker Carlson’s show, has done all of this while conspicuously neglecting to pay any attention whatsoever to the United States Constitution, the Constitution that defines America as the distinctive country that is, the fundamental law of the land, the charter of obligations, rights, liberties, and prerogatives that he swore to uphold.

Had Murphy or any of his advisers, fellow partisans, or members of his administration thought to consult the Bill of Rights, they would have discovered that the Governor’s commands constitute nothing less than the indefinite revocation of the Constitution itself.

To be clear, contrary to what the signs hanging in those businesses that remain open because of Murphy’s declaration that they are “essential” would have costumers believe, the prescription requiring patrons to wear masks is most emphatically not law. The Governor occupies the Executive branch of government.  This means that it is his responsibility to enforce the law.  He cannot make law.  Only the legislative branch, the Congress, can make law. 

It’s true that governors, like presidents, can issue proclamations, decrees, orders, and commands. They do reserve emergency powers.  But nowhere does the Constitution authorize any executive office-holder, neither at the state nor federal levels, to violate the Constitutional liberties of the very people in whose name they suspend them.

Nowhere does the Constitution allot unlimited power to any office-holder to do what Phil Murphy has done, much less do it for the purpose of preventing people from getting sick.

A few years back, the Republican governor of New Jersey at the time, Chris Christie, was all of the rage among the left-wing press for allegedly closing down a bridge in a northern New Jersey town in order to exact vengeance against a political enemy of his.  Big Media called this “Bridgegate.” 

But now, they laud Murphy even as his scandal, what we may call “Jerseygate,” the closing down of a whole state, dwarfs by several orders of magnitude anything of which Christie may have been guilty.

Murphy represents the City of Safety.  The latter prefers the Phil of Wrongs to the Bill of Rights. 

For those of us residents in New Jersey who prize the Bill of Rights, there is hope. Recently, Attorney General Bill Barr remarked that the Department of Justice may take action against the states’ governors who seek to substitute the Phil of Wrongs for the Bill of Rights.  “We have to give businesses more freedom to operate in a way that’s reasonably safe,” Barr said. “To the extent that governors don’t and impinge on either civil rights or on the national commerce—our common market that we have here—then we’ll have to address that.”

Businesses, civil rights, national commerce, common market—Barr indicates here an awareness that the Phil of Wrongs consistently violates these goods. 

Mark Levin, a radio and television host who also happens to be a Constitutional attorney, has also made the convincing case that under the interstate commerce clause of the United States Constitution, President Trump can indeed override the arbitrary “dictates and fiats” of dictatorial governors like Murphy.

In the meantime, I would urge the filing of lawsuits by Constitutional lawyers against the Phil Murphys of the mostly blue states on behalf of those of their residents whose rights and liberties have been systematically and grossly violated and lives economically, psychologically, and socially damaged. 

Furthermore, the federal government should refuse to distribute another single penny of federal monies (American taxpayers’ monies) to every state whose government insists upon keeping it locked down.

The Bill of Rights and City of Liberty must prevail over the Phil of Wrongs and the City of Safety.