WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr admonished state and local authorities that might be crossing the constitutional line when it comes to coronavirus restrictions, and now he has instructed Department of Justice prosecutors to look for where those lines have been crossed, and hold the offending parties accountable.
Barr gave the instructions in a memo to the civil rights division of the DOJ, but also made sure the Eastern District of Michigan was up to speed. The Wolverine State has been under the thumb of an overzealous governor who’s scoffed at constitutional concerns and clamped down tighter.
The memo had message for such elected leaders, stating, “If a state or local ordinance crosses the line from an appropriate exercise of authority to stop the spread of COVID-19 into an overbearing infringement of constitutional and statutory protections, the Department of Justice may have an obligation to address that overreach in federal court.”
Barr also said Stay-at-Home orders, if enforced strictly, are “disturbingly close to house arrest.” Not to mention all the church service bans, or arresting people for protesting.
From North State Journal:
“[…] protesters have staged demonstrations against stay-at-home orders, and in recent weeks, President Donald Trump has urged supporters to “liberate” three states led by Democratic governors.
The Justice Department argued in the Mississippi filing that officials in Greenville appeared to be targeting religious conduct by singling churches out as the only essential service, as designated by the state of Mississippi, that may not operate despite following all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state recommendations regarding social distancing.
In an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt last week, Barr said the Justice Department could support legal action against states that impose strict measures as the number of coronavirus cases begins to subside.
“The idea that you have to stay in your house is disturbingly close to house arrest,” Barr said. “I’m not saying it wasn’t justified. I’m not saying in some places it might still be justified. But it’s very onerous, as is shutting down your livelihood.”
Barr said he believes there is a sufficient basis for social distancing rules that have been put in place, but he has cautioned that there may be concern if the restrictive measures continue too long. He has said the U.S. must find a way to allow business to adapt and reopen. […]”
As it stands now, Governor Roy Cooper’s phased plan to reopen would drag on long enough to very likely cross the constitutional lines Barr aims to uphold. How long are people expected to operate in a quasi-free environment without it amounting to a serious violation of individual rights in the eyes of the DOJ? We’ll see.
Read more at NSJ.