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As the coronavirus outbreak worsens, could the 2020 elections be at risk? Can they be cancelled just like the NCAA today scrubbed its basketball tournament?

What if Trump declares a state of emergency and orders that elections be postponed to a later date?

Not possible you say? Think again.

The truth is we are in uncharted territory. 

While it’s nice to think our laws and institutions protect us from a dangerous president and that a lawless chief executive can only do so much without bumping up against the limits set by the Constitution and Congress (and enforced by the courts), that just might not be the case.

Did you know the moment the president declares a “national emergency”—a decision that is entirely within his discretion—more than 100 special provisions become available to him? 

While many of those concessions are geared to reasonable responses to genuine emergencies, some appear dangerously suited to a president eager to amass or retain power. 

As Elizabeth Goitein writes in The Atlantic, “This edifice of extraordinary powers has historically rested on the assumption that the president will act in the country’s best interest when using them. With a handful of noteworthy exceptions, this assumption has held up. But what if a president, backed into a corner and facing electoral defeat or impeachment, were to declare an emergency for the sake of holding on to power? In that scenario, our laws and institutions might not save us from a presidential power grab. They might be what takes us down.”

The coronavirus pandemic has the potential of turning into a catastrophe the likes of which our country, and the world, has never seen… and a golden opportunity for Trump to remain in power until he declares the “emergency” over.

I fear the odds of Trump taking such drastic action will only increase as his odds of winning reelection decrease.

If we’ve learned anything by now it’s that Trump … and his Republican enablers … have total disdain for our Constitution and the rule of law.

The scary part is that, historically, the Supreme Court has often upheld declarations of “national emergency” or found ways to avoid reviewing them, at least while the crisis still remained.

Uncharted territory indeed!

Photo | wsj.com



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