Is It Legal For President Trump to Restrict Flights to Coronavirus Hot Spots?

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Is it legal for President Trump to impost flight restrictions to coronavirus hot spots?

Rebecca Rose Woodland, litigator and legal analyst, joined TheStreet to weigh in the legality of such an action.

Watch the video above for more.

Video Transcript:

Katherine Ross: 
President Donald Trump is reportedly weighing restrictions on flights to areas most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Joining me to break it down is Rebecca Rose Woodland legal analyst and litigator. Rebecca. What's the historical precedence of this?

Rebecca Rose Woodland:
So I know a lot of people who have been getting emails and text messages that the Stafford Act...The Stafford act does not apply here. If the president were looking to quarantine people or restrict travel, that would have to do with his use of the commerce clause constitutionally in which the president is allowed to invoke the commerce clause where he can control commerce, interstate commerce, anything that happens between States. And if in a time like this where there is a health concern, arguably he could invoke the commerce clause to restrict travel. Anything that would be considered commerce within states, state to state. Now arguably, constitutionally, states have the right to--within the state--control their own actions, commerce, anything that is happening within the States. So this presidential authority would be a very far reach and is used...has been used traditionally in times of very severe health crisis or in times of war.

Katherine Ross: 
So you're saying that this is technically legal. Have we seen this enacted in the United States for something roughly similar? Cause I know that the coronavirus pandemic isn't exactly, you know, it's not, it's apples to oranges to a lot of other pandemics. So has anything like this ever happened before?

Rebecca Rose Woodland: 
Well, what, what we're seeing is the possibility that it's legal. I think we might see some states, some state governors push back and say, well that's not legal. We might also see the airlines now restricting travel also restricts airlines and [the] money coming in [to the airlines], right? Economically it would vary greatly affect airlines. So what we're looking at is airlines and certain States that might have a push back and say, Hey, that's not constitutional.

Rebecca Rose Woodland:
And we might see some arguing back and forth. You know, we also have Dr. Fauci now stating that he might be on board in terms of a health perspective and that would support the president's claim that this is an epidemic that is countrywide, and then he has to take over to quarantine the nation. As we saw Bill Ackman two weeks ago had recommended to the president. Now we're seeing Senator Lindsey Graham also recommending this kind of countrywide quarantine, close down the borders and quarantine even within some restrict domestic air travel, international air travel, and try to control this virus. So the argument would be, can the president do it? Is it constitutional? And if he can, how far-reaching are those powers even within the States? And there are, there's very good support for this in times like this, times of severe crisis like we saw during World War I and World War II.

Katherine Ross:
All right, Rebecca, thank you so much. Joining us today and for more on the coronavirus pandemic, head on over to the street.com. Thank you Catherine.

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