“Our federal constitutional rights don’t go away in an emergency,” Barr said in the interview.
The divide over reopening the country was accelerated last week after President Donald Trump urged protesters to “liberate” states from the lockdown orders.
Since then, demonstrators have organized in several states, skirting social distancing guidelines, which were supposed to be in place until at least April 30 but were superseded last week by a new White House plan for a gradual reopening of the nation’s commerce.
So far 12 states — including Georgia which has yet to see a drop in new cases — now have plans to reopen far ahead of the timeline that federal health experts have recommended.
“We’re looking carefully at a number of these rules that are being put into place,” Barr said. “And if we think one goes too far, we initially try to jawbone the governors into rolling them back or adjusting them. And if they’re not and people bring lawsuits, we file statement of interest and side with the plaintiffs.”
The Justice Department has already intervened in one case in which members of a Mississippi church were fined for attending drive-in services that defied orders to stay home, CBS reported.
Several governors have been sued, too, but so far the DOJ has not announced its involvement in any new cases.