Barr Has Warning for States With the Most Restrictions

Says Justice Department might support legal action over residents being kept in 'house arrest'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2020 1:49 AM CDT
Barr Has Warning for States With the Most Restrictions
Attorney General William Barr speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Among those not happy with the strict stay-home orders in place across much of America: William Barr. The attorney general said Tuesday that the orders, which he called "disturbingly close to house arrest," did their job—but their time is now passing. "There are very, very burdensome impingements on liberty," he told radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, per NBC News and NPR. "And we adopted them for the limited purpose of slowing down the spread. We didn't adopt them as the comprehensive way of dealing with this disease. We are now seeing that these are bending the curve, and we have to come up with more targeted approaches."

He acknowledged that many of the restrictions imposed by various governors are within the powers granted to states to protect public health, but said some of them may interfere with interstate commerce, which is under the jurisdiction of the federal government. In cases where governors go "too far," he said, "we'll have to address that." He noted that one course of action might involve the federal government joining lawsuits fighting the restrictions. "I'm not saying [ordering people to stay home] wasn't justified. I'm not saying in some places it might still be justified," Barr added. "But it's very onerous, as is shutting down your livelihood." (Read more William Barr stories.)

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