During a Constitution Day celebration hosted by Hillsdale College on Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr railed against lockdowns and stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic, CNN reported.
The event’s host asked Barr to discuss the “constitutional hurdles” for banning church gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This prompted the attorney general to argue that state directives — which are meant to curb the spread of the virus — represent an almost unprecedented threat to civil liberties.
“You know, putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest. Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history.”
Barr said that governors across the nation “defy common sense” with their decisions, arguing that businesses and the American people need to be granted more freedom.
“They treat free citizens as babies that can’t take responsibility for themselves and others,” he said. “We have to give business people an opportunity, tell them what the rules are you know the masks… and then let them try to adapt their business to that and you’ll have ingenuity and people will at least have the freedom to try to earn a living.”
Science suggests that the measures imposed in most states have saved lives. A study from the University of Minnesota, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, suggested that stay-at-home orders led to a 58 percent decline in community infection rate.
According to CNN, in recent weeks, Barr has aggressively defended President Donald Trump and members of his administration. He has repeatedly criticized governors’ handling of the COVID-19 crisis, suggested that mail-in voting is not safe and attacked former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
On Wednesday, Barr amped up his criticism of those opposed to the commander-in-chief, taking aim at his own subordinates. He compared Justice Department attorneys to preschoolers and pushed back against suggestions that he is interfering in cases to protect Trump.
Barr also argued that his job is inherently “political,” slamming the prosecutors who worked on Mueller’s Russia probe. The attorney general suggested that some of those who worked with Mueller were supportive of former President Barack Obama and therefore antagonistic toward Trump.
Earlier this month, federal prosecutor Nora Dannehy, who was a top aide in John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, resigned from her position. Dannehy allegedly quit due to concerns that Barr is pressuring the investigators for partisan reasons.