United States Attorney General William Barr compared calls for a national lockdown in the U.S. to slavery earlier this week. Speaking at Hillsdale College in Michigan, the event’s host asked Barr to explain the “constitutional hurdles for forbidding a church from meeting during COVID-19.”
Barr then launched into a four-minute response where he said a national lockdown would be akin to house arrest. He accused state governors of using their executive powers to stifle citizens and businesses.
“Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restrain, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history,” Barr said. The attorney general said he’s OK with requiring masks, but not shutting down businesses. The comments came a day after Barr equated prosecutors at the Justice Department to pre-schoolers.
“You know, putting a national lockdown, stay-at-home orders, is like house arrest. It’s — you know, other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history,” Barr added during a question-and-answer session following his remarks.
At one point, Barr seemingly suggested that the federal response to the pandemic should be guided by politicians and elected officials rather than medical experts and the broader scientific community.
Barr is also facing criticism over a series of appearances and provocative public remarks that appear to dovetail with key themes of President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. He has maintained an unusually high public profile as the presidential campaign gets into full swing. On various occasions he blamed the Democrats for violent civil unrest and offers consequently dire warnings about the potential consequences if Trump loses in November.
On an official trip to Chicago last week to discuss an anti-crime initiative, Barr said he believes the upcoming election is the most significant of his lifetime. “As an attorney general, I’m not supposed to get into politics … For example, attorneys general don’t go out and campaign and so forth,” he said.
“I think we were getting into a position where we were going to find ourselves irrevocably committed to the socialist path and I think if Trump loses this election that — that will be the case … I think there’s now a clear fork in the road for our country. Increasingly the message of the Democrats appears to be: Biden or no peace … That is rule by the mob and we’re approaching that.”