Barr warns of legal action if governors overstep pandemic authority, infringe liberties

Barr made the comments as states across the country have cracked down amid the coronavirus crisis

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Attorney General William Barr in January 2019
Attorney General William Barr in January 2019
(Mark Wilson/Getty Images))
Updated: April 21, 2020 - 8:04pm

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Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday told U.S. governors he'll take action if they overstep their authority.

During an interview with talk radio host Hugh Hewitt, Barr noted that when a governor has crossed the line efforts are made to persuade them to change course.

"We initially try to jawbone the governors into rolling them back or adjusting them," Barr said. "And if they’re not and people bring lawsuits, we file statement of interest and side with the plaintiffs," he said, according to a transcript. "As lawsuits develop, as specific cases emerge in the states, we’ll take a look at them."

States across the country have imposed stay-at-home orders or other restrictions to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Barr praised President Trump's guidance and said that it has been observed by many governors, but he noted that his department would take action if a governor infringed on civil rights or commerce.

"I think the president’s guidance has been, as I say, superb and very common sensical. And I think a lot of the governors are following that," Barr said. "And you know, to the extent that governors don’t and impinge on either civil rights or on the national commerce, our common market that we have here, then we’ll have to address that."

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