Attorney General Bill Barr said his Justice Department may pursue legal action against governors who maintain strict lockdown rules after their coronavirus outbreaks subside, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday.
Barr has been vocal about some lockdown measures infringing on Americans’ constitutional rights, including bans on attending church and purchasing firearms. President Donald Trump’s administration issued new guidelines last week for states to begin lifting their lockdown measures once they meet certain coronavirus milestones. (RELATED: FDA Authorizes First Home-Collected Coronavirus Test)
“We have to give businesses more freedom to operate in a way that’s reasonably safe,” Barr said, according to Bloomberg. “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 said the federal government may weigh in to support any lawsuits against states they believe are pushing lockdown limits too far. One state that is likely to fit the bill is Michigan, where hundreds have flaunted distancing guidelines to protest at the state capital, arguing Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is abusing her authority. (RELATED: Michigan Governor Deems Gardening Supplies — Including Fruit And Vegetable Seeds — ‘Non-Essential’)
“We’re looking carefully at a number of these rules that are being put into place,” Barr said, according to Bloomberg. “And if we think one goes too far, we initially try to jawbone the governors into rolling them back or adjusting them. And if they’re not and people bring lawsuits, we file statement of interest and side with the plaintiffs.”
Most states have yet to meet the Trump administration’s milestones for entering phase one, however, which recommend that states see at least 14 days of decreasing cases of both coronavirus and flu-like symptoms; hospital workers must be fully equipped with personal protection equipment and ventilators, and there must be an adequate testing system for healthcare workers.
All of American society is engaged and mobilized in the war against the invisible enemy. It is clear that our strategy is working, and very strongly working,” Trump said when he announced the phased reopening plan. “The data suggests that nationwide we have passed the peak on new cases. Hopefully that will continue, and we will continue to make great progress.”