WASHINGTON, DC (NEXSTAR) — Attorney General William Barr said the U.S. Justice Department is watching governors’ coronavirus stay-at-home orders and will intervene if they become “too restrictive.”
Barr has directed federal prosecutors to monitor states for rules that may violate citizens’ constitutional rights.
About half the states in the country remain largely shut down. In a Q and A session on Twitter Friday, Barr voiced the Trump administration’s impatience.
“It’s time to start rolling back some of these restrictions in an orderly and sensible way,” he said. “We are on the lookout for restrictions that are too widespread, too generalized.”
Sen. John Kennedy, R-LA, said he applauds Barr’s threat.
“I know that common sense is illegal in Washington, DC, but it’s apparently illegal also in some state capitals,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy had one state in mind: Michigan. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s initial stay-at-home order, one of the strictest in the country, prohibited activities like motorized boating but allowed row boating, and shut down garden centers in big-box retailers.
“Huh? I mean, what planet did she just parachute in from? That’s three gallons of crazy,” Kennedy said.
This week, Whitmer lifted those restrictions but extended the overall stay-at-home order until May 15.
“Most Michiganders are doing their part by staying home and staying safe,” Whitmer said during the announcement. “It’s good, but we must keep it up.”
While Kennedy is eager to reopen his state now, Louisiana’s governor extended his stay at home order another two weeks.
Other members of Congress have advised their governors to take a gradual approach.
“Healthy people create healthy economies,” said Rep. Terri Sewell, D-AL. “We have to have both.”
Sewell’s home state of Alabama started to reopen its economy Friday with a two-week transitional period.
“Taking into account the size and the nature of the business, as well as its exposure to the public,” Sewell said.