AG Barr orders DOJ to start investigations into states violating constitutional rights, civil liberties

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According to US Attorney General Bill Barr, some states might be in for more than just a slap on the wrist for their over-reaching policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cristina Laila of The Gateway Pundit reported:

“US Attorney General Bill Barr on Monday issued a 2-page memo ordering US Attorneys to be on the ‘lookout’ for state and local directives that could be violating the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individual citizens amid the Coronavirus pandemic.”

She further said that it is believed that state and local officials have overstepped their bounds of authority by issuing “lockdown” orders that not only surpass their position’s ability to issue such orders, but violate the constitutional rights of their citizens.

In the memo, Barr wrote:

“As the Department of Justice explained recently in guidance to states and localities taking steps to battle the pandemic, even in times of emergency, when reasonable and temporary restrictions are placed on rights, the First Amendment and federal statutory law prohibit discrimination against religious institutions and religious believers.”

Barr continued:

“For example, the Constitution also forbids, in certain circumstances, discrimination against disfavored speech and undue interference with the national economy.

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.”

One such example that may have self-corrected with the assist from Texas Governor Greg Abbott was an order by Harris County judge Lina Hidalgo. 

Hidalgo mandated that masks had to be worn by all citizens venturing outside, provided they were 10 years old or older, or they would face a $1,000 fine per offense.  Governor Abbott spoke about this very subject yesterday as he explained that it is his and the state’s authority that overrides and supersedes local authority; he said though wearing a mask may be a good suggestion, local and regional governments cannot mandate it. 

Hidalgo rescinded most of her previous order, removing the possibility of the $1,000 fine and several other intrusive aspects.

Attorney General Barr previously called out authorities in Mississippi over restricting religious gatherings.

Barr said:

“[The government] may not impose special restrictions on religious activity that do not also apply to similar non-religious activity.”

Governors of Michigan and California, specifically, have taken extreme measures to restrict their constituents.  Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been in a continual tit-for-tat battle with the Trump administration over medication, supplies, and restrictions, with her and her party playing strongarm politics instead of fostering mutual cooperation. 

 

Governor says Trump isn’t helping Michigan. Won’t let anyone verify assistance through formal channels.

 

Michigan citizens started a petition to remove Whitmer from office and have protested her policies at the state capitol.

Governor Gavin Newsom in California, on the other hand, has taken a different approach, but nonetheless one that is controversial.  The normally left-leaning/liberal citizens of California have taken to protesting in the streets over several recent decisions Newsom has made. 

He first ran San Francisco into the ground with his failed liberal policies, and now is restricting beachgoers, having single surfers arrested, and is the champion of millions of dollars in aid for illegal immigrants. 

His aid projects for illegals strongly outweigh monies projected for US citizens, veterans, and homeless people.

AG Barr’s announcement couldn’t have come at a better time. As Law Enforcement Today reported earlier this week, we are starting to see the nation on the brink of “mass civil unrest.” Here’s that article again, in case you  missed it.

An expert with the United States Studies Center has told Sky News Australia that he believes America is on the brink of “mass civil unrest” which is starting to show itself in some form through the increasing number of anti-lockdown protests erupting across the country.

Over the past week or two, it is becoming clear that some of the American people are getting anxious about the continuing shutdown of businesses and social activity nationwide as the government lockdown enters nearly 1-1/2 months.

From Connecticut to South Carolina to Colorado, citizens have been showing their growing impatience with a complete and total shutdown, which has cost millions of Americans their jobs and hundreds of thousands of businesses to shutter their doors, some permanently.

What has led to further angst is the fact that by and large, there has not been a concrete plan to reopen business.

Indeed, some government officials have indicated that they are hesitant to open businesses back up until a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus is developed, which is estimated at between 12-18 months.

Others, such as governors in Georgia, Texas and Florida have been roundly criticized, usually by members of the opposite political party for not “following the science” in opening businesses and activities in a selective and measured way.

In speaking to Sky News, James brown, a former Australian Army officer who served as a cavalry troop commander in Iraq indicated that “the very specific mentality of Americans” made it increasingly likely that they would be “more likely to rebel against lockdown measures” where compared to other countries.

“There is that part of the US political psyche that takes rights to a complete extreme,” said Brown, while adding that “mass civil unrest” is always a possibility due to the fact that Americans “share a deep independent streak that believes the government is a nice-to-have and not a must-have.”

Brown did note that if people felt some type of progress was being made on battling the pandemic virus that a short-term lockdown might be acceptable. He did say however, that “…people will chafe, that idea of individual freedom and liberty is much stronger in the U.S. than it is in Australia.”

Reason noted that the combination of unemployment and government-mandated shutdowns are a recipe for social unrest.

They note that historically, not only in the U.S. but around the world that the combination of unemployment and stagnant economic activity has a tendency to “lead to social unrest, including demonstrations, strikes and other forms of potentially violent disruptions.”

They note that with forecasters expecting the U.S. unemployment rate to equal if not surpass that found during the Great Depression, it has become a huge concern.

On March 22, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard told Bloomberg News, “We’re putting this initial number at 30 percent; that’s a 30 percent unemployment rate” in the second quarter of the year.

He also indicated that the Gross Domestic Product could be expected to drop by half.

Most economic downturns are cyclical in nature, however in this case, it is self-inflicted by an over-cautious government which is using the COVID-19 pandemic not only to shutter businesses but to also in some cases impose over-reaching and over-the-top regulations and restrictions, which is causing anger and frustration among Americans.

“Results from the empirical analysis indicate that economic growth and the unemployment rate are the two most important determinants of social unrest,” said the International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency that maintains a Social Unrest Index, which is used to predict civil disorder based, in part upon economic trends.

For example, a one standard deviation increase in unemployment raises social unrest by 0.39 standard deviations, while a one standard deviation increase in GDP growth reduces social unrest by 0.19 standard deviations.”

Many might ask why economic shutdowns lead to social unrest. Great question, and an easy answer. Commerce is the life blood of a nation, jobs and businesses obviously keep people alive. People need jobs in order to provide for basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. If businesses are closed, there are no jobs.

President Trump was obviously overly optimistic when he said that he wanted to open up the country by Easter, but it’s obvious that the president understands that businesses need to get back open in order to get people back into somewhat of a normal routine.


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Murdered officer's grave desecrated before headstone even placed

Contrast that with the statement made last month by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said that “if it’s public health versus the economy, the only choice is public health.” Cuomo dismisses the notion that health and economy go hand in hand.

Clearly he doesn’t understand (or doesn’t care) that mental health is just as important as physical health. The Daily Beast reported last week that the suicide rate in the United States has just risen to the highest level in almost 30 years. There has been a global rise in domestic violence since the coronavirus lockdowns went into effect, according to the New York Times.

It is short-sighted of Cuomo to insist there is some kind of priority involving physical health…physical and mental health are not mutually exclusive. Reason notes that Cuomo’s take reflects “an unrealistic and semi-aristocratic disdain for the activities that make fighting the pandemic possible at all—and that keep social unrest at bay.”

The connection made by the International Labor Organization correlating the connection between unemployment and social distress.

During the Great Depression, with unemployment at 24.9 percent, President Roosevelt’s administration implemented something called the Civilian Conservation Corps which took jobless people, in this case mostly young men, into “quasi-military camps far from home in the nation’s publicly owned forests and parks,” according to Joseph Speakman in the Fall 2006 issue of Prologue Magazine, which was published by the National Archives and Records Administration.

“Bringing an army of the unemployed into ‘healthful surroundings,’ Roosevelt argued, would help to eliminate the threats to social stability that enforced idleness had created,” Speakman added.

Bullard of the St. Louis Fed doesn’t believe that shipping the jobless out to the wilderness as Roosevelt did is obviously a viable option. Likewise, unlike in Spain during their economic meltdown in 2011 where so-called “off the books” businesses thrived, he doesn’t propose relying on a black market to keep people “fed, warm and healthy.”

Bullard agrees with the programs that have been put in place by Congress and the White House, unemployment insurance and other payments that “would make displaced workers and business owners whole.”

Among those who are concerned about the economic collapse are public health officials who take the COVID-19 virus seriously.

“I am deeply concerned that the social, economic and public health consequences of this near total meltdown of normal life—schools and businesses closed, gatherings banned—will be long lasting and calamitous, possibly graver than the direct toll of the virus itself,” wrote David L. Katz, former director of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in The New York Times.

“The stock market will bounce back in time, but many businesses never will. The unemployment, impoverishment and despair likely to result will be public health scourges of the first order.”

So, while governors such as Newsom, Cuomo, Lamont, Whitmer and others blather on about “following the science” in deciding when to open up their states, people are getting angry, frustrated and desperate. That is a recipe for a long, hot summer in the United States.

 

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