In an interview on Tuesday, Attorney General Bill Barr said that some state ‘stay-at-home’ restrictions are “disturbingly close to house arrest.” Shockingly, he went on to threaten legal action if governors begin to take restrictions on movement and civil liberties’ too far.’
Barr compared the government’s coronavirus response to the battle against cancer, describing the stay-at-home orders as a form of chemotherapy that will allow states to obtain a better handle of the virus’ spread.
“The question is you can’t just keep on feeding the patient chemotherapy and say well, we’re killing the cancer because we were getting to the point where we’re killing the patient,” Barr said. “And now is the time that we have to start looking ahead and adjusting to more targeted therapies.”
Barr spoke with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, and said, “These are unprecedented burdens on civil liberties right now. You know the idea that you have to stay in your house is disturbingly close to house arrest,” he continued, “I’m not saying it wasn’t justified. I’m not saying in some places it might still be justified.”
Barr also gloated over Donald Trump’s overseeing of the coronavirus pandemic. The AG revealed that the justice department would be closely watching governors who don’t abide by the latest federal guidance on phased reopenings for certain aspects of the economy.
“I think the president’s guidance has been, as I say, superb and very commonsensical, and I think a lot of the governors are following that. And you know, 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.”
Meanwhile, Trump says that residents had been treated “rough” in the stay-at-home orders. As a result, he encouraged protests against restrictions in Virginia, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as other states.
The Justice Department filed a statement of interest last week in support of a Mississippi church, where its members were fined for attending a drive-thru church service. The department argued that the penalty was imposed unfairly on the church versus other commercial activities that were taking place within the community. According to Barr, the DOJ would grant similar consideration going forward when weighing in on lawsuits brought by citizens who sue the state and local governments for unfairly infringing on their civil liberties.
“If we think it’s, you know, justified, we would take a position, that’s what we’re doing now. We, you know, we’re looking carefully at a number of these rules that are being put into place. And if we think one goes too far, we initially try to jawbone the governors into rolling them back or adjusting them.” Barr said.
Many states are looking to reopen many aspects this week, while others are opposed to reopening any time soon.