Poll: Majority says government has constitutional right to close businesses

As coronavirus re-opening debate continues, 75% of Democrats believe state and local governments have authority to shut down businesses, but only 35% of Republicans agree.

Published: May 14, 2020 1:20pm

Updated: May 14, 2020 9:12pm

As policymakers continue to debate the process for re-opening the government after the coronavirus, 55% of Americans say government has constitutional right to close businesses, according to a new Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen.

However, 28% of voters think state and local governments shutting down businesses is a violation of the U.S. Constitution and individual rights. Another 17% are not sure.

The poll also found 75% of Democrats believe state and local governments have authority to shut down businesses. So do 52% of Independent voters, while just 35% of Republicans agree.

Just the News Poll, Is it unconstitutional for governments to shut down businesses?
Just the News Daily Poll
With Scott Rasmussen

"There’s a huge partisan divide over this," Rasmussen noted. However, when we asked a follow-up question, we found strong agreement on the notion that whatever authority the government has in this regard, it applies ONLY in extreme emergencies. Only 13% of Democrats, 11% of Independents, and 10% of Republicans believe the government can deploy such draconian powers at any time."

Rasmussen said this distinction helps analysts see the current policy battles in a slightly different light.

"The debate over how fast to end the lockdowns is partly a battle over the question of whether we are facing an extreme emergency at this moment," Rasmussen also said. "Just about everyone agrees that the coronavirus is still a serious concern. But is it still an 'extreme' emergency? For many, doubts about that are growing every day. At the same time, it’s important to recognize that this doesn’t mean voters want the government or government officials to back off completely. Official recommendations to fight the pandemic will continue influencing public behavior for as long as they seem reasonable and appropriate."

A separate poll by Rasmussen found 64% of Americans believe governments should cover losses of businesses they shut down.

Just the News Daily Poll respondents were asked “Do state and local governments have the legal authority to shut down businesses? Or is ordering a business to shutdown a violation of the U.S. Constitution and individual rights?" They replied as below:

  • 55% Governments have the authority
  • 28% Shutdowns are Violation of Constitutional rights
  • 17% Not sure

This secondary question was asked only of those who answered saying government has authority: "Can governments shut down businesses at any time or do they have that power only during an extreme national emergency?" They replied as below:

  • 12% At any time
  • 41% Only during a national emergency
  • 3% Not sure
  • 45% Not Asked [Government Lacks Authority or Not Sure]

The national survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted May 7-9, 2020 by Rasmussen, a polling veteran. Margin of sampling error: +/- 2.8% for full sample. 

To see the full demographic cross-tabulations for this polling question, click below:

To see the methodology and sample demographics for this polling question, click below:

Unlock unlimited access

  • No Ads Within Stories
  • No Autoplay Videos
  • VIP access to exclusive Just the News newsmaker events hosted by John Solomon and his team.
  • Support the investigative reporting and honest news presentation you've come to enjoy from Just the News.
  • Just the News Spotlight

    Support Just the News