Attorney General issues statement as some states begin reopening

Haley Maser, Views Editor

In wake of many states deciding to reopen businesses or prolong shutdowns, United States Attorney General William Barr issued a statement to federal prosecutors to “be on the lookout” for state restrictions that violate constitutional rights. Despite many states beginning to decrease coronavirus caused restrictions, Illinois’ stay at home order has been extended to May 30.

April 27, William Barr issued a memo regarding the importance of upholding constitutional rights while keeping the public safe. “If a state or local ordinance crosses the line from an appropriate exercise of authority to stop the spread of COVID-19 into an overbearing infringement of constitutional and statutory protections, the Department of Justice may have an obligation to address that overreach in federal court,” the attorney general stated. “I am directing each of our United States Attorneys to also be on the lookout for state and local directives that could be violating the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individual citizens.”

This memo comes as multiple states are choosing to reopen their economies after weeks of being shut down. As of April 24, Georgia has opened many places of business, including gyms, salons, and restaurants. Additional states that have made announcements to begin lifting the shutdown include Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee. 

Despite reopenings, other states including Illinois have lengthened stay at home orders and implemented additional restrictions. Illinois’ shutdown has been extended to May 30, and citizens are now required to wear masks in public. “I know how badly we all want our normal lives back. But this is the part where we have to dig in and understand that the sacrifices we’ve made as a state to avoid a worst-case scenario are working,” stated Illinois governor Pritzker. This decision has faced push back, including lawsuits being filed against Pritzker.