On April 21, 2020, Attorney General William Barr said that various restrictions to combat the Wuhan virus may actually be onerous at this juncture.
“There are very, very burdensome impingements on liberty,” he said on conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt’s show. Barr added that state governments adopted draconian restrictions “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.”
In Barr’s view, the restrictions, such as closing down businesses and forcing people to stay home, are infringements on civil liberties that may be justified in accordance to the broad police powers state governments have in order to safeguard public health. However, he said governors may have overstepped their powers and have impeded with interstate commerce, which falls under the purview of the federal government.
If these infringements continue happening, “we’ll have to address that,” Barr stated, which could involve the federal government teaming up with other plaintiffs to challenge state actions.
Last week, the Justice Department took action by filing a statement in support of a small Mississippi church that sued city officials who attempted to shut down a drive-in church service while letting a local drive-in restaurant operate.
He described stay-at-home orders “disturbingly close to house arrest.”
“I’m not saying it wasn’t justified,” he stated, but “it’s very onerous, as is shutting down your livelihood.”
Barr compared fighting the pandemic to treating a cancer patient. Chemotherapy is first used to localize the disease before turning to more targeted methods.
“Now is the time that we have to start looking ahead and adjusting to more targeted therapies,” he stated.
He described President Donald Trump’s plan to loosen restrictions “a very commonsensical approach” based on analyzing the status of the virus in every city and state.
Barr nails it.
Although pandemics are no casual affairs, this current outbreak does not merit such a strong response.
Instead, states should take more localized/targeted approaches to quarantine people who pose credible public health threats.