Attorney General William Barr told conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday that some governors’ orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic are infringing on constitutional rights.
Barr appeared on the Hugh Hewitt Show Tuesday morning to discuss stay-at-home orders and the American economy.
The radio show host asked Barr if overlapping realms of authority between the president and governors have collided during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Well, they can be in tension, and there are potentials for collision,” Barr said.
“When a governor acts, especially when a governor does something at intrudes upon or infringes on a fundamental right or a constitutional right, they’re bounded by that. And those situations are emerging around the country to some extent.”
The attorney general added that governors need to do a better job at ensuring executive orders are “properly targeted.”
“We do have a national economy, which is the responsibility of the federal government. So it is possible that governors will take measures that impair interstate commerce,” he said. “And just where that line is drawn, you know, remains to be seen.”
President Donald Trump has clashed with a few different governors over their responses to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, he sent out three tweets calling to “liberate” Minnesota, Virginia and Michigan.
Barr told Hewitt that he thinks the president’s guidance for states has been “superb” and many governors are following it.
He added that if governors don’t follow Trump’s recommendations and “impinge on either civil rights or on the national commerce,” he will “have to address that.”
Barr said people forget that strong measures have been adopted when they discuss if the president or state governors have more authority over the situations in each state.
“These are unprecedented burdens on civil liberties right now. You know, the idea that you have to stay in your house is disturbingly close to house arrest,” he said.
“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.”
Barr’s appearance on Hewitt’s show comes as many states across the country approach the end of their stay-at-home orders.
Although Michigan’s stay-at-home order is one of the many set to expire on April 30, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been criticized by the president and her own constituents over her handling of the pandemic in her state. Whitmer has even threatened to extend the executive order.
The Trump administration issued guidelines on Thursday for states to reopen their economies “one step at a time,” according to a White House Fact Sheet.
“The guidelines will empower Governors to tailor the phased reopening to address the situation in their State,” the fact sheet read.
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