By Duncan Smith
A group of Republican lawmakers is urging Attorney General William Barr to make good on an earlier pledge to crack down on overly restrictive shutdown orders issued by state governors.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), who is leading this effort to push back on the stay-at-home restrictions, introduced a resolution in the House on Friday claiming that state and local leaders have “abused their authority by infringing on the constitutional rights of Americans, ordering private businesses to close, requiring citizens to stay in their homes, and imposing draconian punishments for violations.”
It was co-sponsored by Reps. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), Ron Wright (R-Texas), Andy Harris (R-Md.), Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Jody Hice (R-Ga.), Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).
“The U.S. Constitution is just as relevant and worth protecting during a national crisis as it during times of peace. We cannot use the hysteria surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak to provide a pass to state and local leaders who are abusing their authority to shut down their economies, restrict the free movement of American citizens, and impose draconian penalties that far exceed the seriousness of the action,” Biggs said in a statement.
“I call on Attorney General Barr to continue reviewing these restricting orders and I call on Americans to stand united in the fight for their inherent rights,” he added.
The resolution recalls the severity of the current economic downturn caused by lockdown orders issued by governors that include mandatory closures of ‘non-essential’ businesses.
It also cites increasing demand for assistance from food banks, and a surge in reports of suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, child abuse and domestic violence.
The resolution also recounts the case of Shelley Luther, a Dallas salon owner who was sentenced to seven days in jail in thousands in fines by a county judge who first required her to apologize for daring to open her business ‘against the shutdown order’ because her kids are about to go hungry.
After a massive backlash over that insanity, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott stepped in and eliminated jail time as a punishment for people who violated his stay-at-home order.
The Epoch Times noted:
Barr has been vocal about the need to protect constitutional rights and civil liberties even during a public health crisis. The attorney general has previously said that while it is important that state and local officials put in broad measures to mitigate the spread of the pandemic at the beginning, these measures should be rolled back when the flow of cases begins to ebb. He said officials should then look into more targeted approaches.
He has also issued a memorandum directing federal prosecutors to “be on the lookout” for state and local restrictions that could be running afoul of the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individual citizens.
Barr wrote that in the event an ordinance “crosses the line” between stopping the spread of the virus and violating constitutional and statutory protections, the DOJ “may have an obligation to address that overreach in federal court.”
“Many policies that would be unthinkable in regular times have become commonplace in recent weeks, and we do not want to unduly interfere with the important efforts of state and local officials to protect the public,” Barr said. “But the Constitution is not suspended in times of crisis.”