Barr: Some governors’ action ‘infringes on a fundamental right’ during coronavirus
Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday that some state governors’ efforts to fight the coronavirus “infringes on a fundamental right” of American residents.
Barr said in an interview on “The Hugh Hewitt Show” that state governments in the U.S. need to “do a better job” of ensuring coronavirus restrictions are “properly targeted” and do not unnecessarily infringe on constitutional rights. He added that the country is currently facing “unprecedented burdens on civil liberties.”
“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,” the attorney general said. “And those situations are emerging around the country, to some extent.”
The attorney general said the government needs time to adapt during a crisis and has the responsibility to “tailor its approach” after initially issuing potentially “blunt” restrictions. Barr said since the country has had time to flatten the curve of coronavirus cases, it is now time for the government to adjust the original restrictions.
Barr said the stay-at-home orders are “disturbingly close to house arrest” but added, “I’m not saying it wasn’t justified.”
“We didn’t adopt them as the comprehensive way of dealing with this disease,” he said. “And we are now seeing that these are bending the curve, and now we have to come up with more targeted approaches.”
The attorney general said asking people to keep six feet apart, to wash their hands and wear personal protective equipment in public “are fine.”
He also called President Trump’s plan to allow governors to reopen their states a “very commonsensical approach,” adding that he has acted “well within the traditional rules of law.”
Barr’s comments come as governors are taking more steps to reopen after the coronavirus pandemic shuttered their economies. President Trump said on Sunday that some governors have “gone too far” in their restrictions to reduce the coronavirus spread.
But health experts warn that reopening states too early could result in a resurgence of cases. The U.S. has documented the most cases and deaths in the world, with at least 788,920 cases and at least 42,458 fatalities, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.