Attorney General William Barr said governors need to continue to evaluate and adjust restrictions implemented to curb the spread of the coronavirus so they don’t infringe on constitutional rights.
During an interview Tuesday morning on “The Hugh Hewitt Show,” Barr said the country is facing “unprecedented burdens on civil liberties.”
He said measures taken early on to flatten the curve should be re-evaluated in areas seeing success fighting the spread of the disease.
Barr said 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 of some of the strict actions governors took. “And we are now seeing that these are bending the curve, and now we have to come up with more targeted approaches.”
But the Department of Justice isn't stading idly by, and is prepared to take legal action, if necessary, against unjust restrictions, he said.
“We’re looking carefully at a number of these rules that are being put into place,” Barr said. “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.”
Barr compared changing the rules to how a doctor treats a cancer patient.
He said the goal of cancer treatments like chemotherapy or radiation are used to get cancer to a more manageable state. The idea is the same in using stay-at-home orders and lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus.
“You can’t just keep on feeding the patient chemotherapy and say well, we’re killing the cancer, because we were getting to the point where we’re killing the patient,” he said. “And now is the time that we have to start looking ahead and adjusting to more targeted therapies.”
He said asking people to stand six feet apart, to wash their hands and wear personal protective equipment in public “are fine.”
Barr called President Donald Trump’s plan to permit governors to reopen their states a “very commonsensical approach.”
He said the president has acted “well within the traditional rules of law.”
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