Attorney General William Barr warns that some state governors have, to an extent, infringed on their constituents’ fundamental and constitutional rights.
In an appearance on the Hugh Hewitt show, Barr advised governors that their restrictions need to be “properly targeted” so as not to unnecessarily affect the rights of residents.
“When a governor acts, especially when a governor does something that intrudes upon or infringes on a fundamental right or a Constitutional right, they’re bounded by that,” he said. “And those situations are emerging around the country, to some extent.”
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Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, for example, faced major backlash after she issued a stay-at-home order that extended to private gatherings.
She then threatened to extend the lockdown when protests began erupting.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that he “wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights” when imposing social distancing measures that included banning church gatherings.
Barr said the country is currently facing “unprecedented burdens on civil liberties,” and, while he admitted, “I’m not saying it wasn’t justified,” he also notes that some of these actions are “disturbingly close to house arrest.”
.@spettypi discusses AG Barr’s recent comments about possibly suing states over stay-at-home orders.
“You would think that trying to block a state … would really undercut the states’ rights argument that conservatives have really built so much of the Republican Party around.” pic.twitter.com/ZhYzos81SV
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 21, 2020
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Barr’s comments echo those of President Trump, who recently said that some of these governors have “gone too far” in imposing restrictions on the people.
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“Some have gone too far. Some governors have gone too far,” Trump told reporters on Sunday. “Some of the things that happened are maybe not so appropriate.”
President Trump: “Some governors have gone too far.” pic.twitter.com/5O1DZFDoe0
— The Hill (@thehill) April 20, 2020
Barr added that the DOJ will consider taking legal action against governors if they continue to lock down states even after the coronavirus crisis subsides, citing the President’s plan to reopen the country.
“We have to give businesses more freedom to operate in a way that’s reasonably safe,” the AG explained.
“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.”
Barr also said they’ll take a look at lawsuits brought forth by citizens or businesses and try to “jawbone” the governors into rolling back the restrictions.
If that doesn’t work, he said, “we file a statement of interest and side with the plaintiffs.”
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