Bill Barr has made no secret of his view that freedom in America is under attack — and he’s not letting his guard down in the coronavirus era.
The attorney general warned in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday that the federal government may support lawsuits against state governors who go “too far” with lockdowns prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, NPR reported. Barr remarked that some lockdown orders have come “disturbingly close to house arrest” and stressed that any restrictions put in place must be focused on overcoming the outbreak.
Barr has been, ironically, likened to an authoritarian himself by unhinged liberal partisans — many of the same Democratic lawmakers and media hacks now calling for all Americans to live under a form of house arrest indefinitely. But the attorney general, for his part, has made his concern about government overreach in fighting the virus very clear.
Without getting into specifics, Barr told Hewitt on Tuesday that the federal government could end up siding with citizens in litigation against governors who trample on their civil liberties.
“If we think it’s, you know, justified, we would take a position; that’s what we’re doing now,” Barr said, according to a transcript from Breitbart. “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. And if they’re not and people bring lawsuits, we file statement of interest and side with the plaintiffs.”
Likening the lockdowns to chemotherapy, Barr said Tuesday that it is necessary to take more “targeted” approaches as time goes on, especially as the “curve” appears to be flattening, Fox News reported. He also noted that the lockdowns were implemented for the “limited purpose” of slowing the virus down.
“These are unprecedented burdens on civil liberties right now,” he told Hewitt, according to CBS News. “The idea that you have to stay in your house is disturbingly close to house arrest. 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.”
The left lashes out
In addition to allegations of authoritarianism, Barr has long faced accusations of being a right-wing theocrat, mainly on account of his candid views that religious freedom and the Constitution are under attack by the left, as laid out in various speeches by the AG. In the coronavirus era, Barr has warned that churches cannot be “singled out” with social distancing restrictions, the New York Post notes.
In that vein, the Justice Department filed a statement of interest earlier this month in support of a congregation in Mississippi that was fined for holding services from their cars. The action was a clear example of selectively infringing on the rights of worshipers to congregate, as drive-thru restaurants were still open, Barr argued.
“The city appears to have thereby singled churches out as the only essential service (as designated by the state of Mississippi) that may not operate despite following all CDC and state recommendations regarding social distancing,” the AG wrote, according to the Post.
His comments haven’t played very well with the left, naturally. Reacting to his interview with Hewitt, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) gave sincere expression to the left’s authoritarian impulses by snapping that Barr is going to “a place that I think even the public knows doesn’t make sense,” according to Fox.
Defending civil liberties doesn’t make any sense? If you’re a progressive, then maybe so.