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Conservative groups call on DOJ to stop “rampant abuses of constitutional rights and civil liberties … by governors and local officials”

Conservative groups call on DOJ to stop “rampant abuses of constitutional rights and civil liberties … by governors and local officials”

“we call on you to halt the spread of these unconstitutional orders and enforcement tactics against the American people”

Attorney General William Barr has signaled that the federal government will take action with regard to violations of the constitutional rights of citizens by state and local officials as part of Wuhan coronavirus ‘stay at home’ and shutdown orders.

Barr was addressing particularly violations of religious freedom.

And indeed, DOJ filed court papers in support of a Greenville, Mississippi, church prohibited from holding drive-in services, while fast food restaurants and liquor stores did not have similar prohibitions about cars parking in the parking lot. We covered the case in U.S. Dept. Justice files court support for Mississippi church barred from holding ‘drive-in’ service.

We are awaiting a court decision in the Mississippi, but in a similar case in Kentucky, a federal court granted an injunction, Federal Court Prohibits Louisville Mayor from Banning Easter Sunday Drive-in Church Service.

There have been a myriad of other seemingly irrational restrictions in various jurisdictions in petty ways that bear no meaningful relationship to disease control. It’s Governors and Mayors gone wild, flexing their muscles, sometimes with good intentions, sometimes not.

Now a coalition of conservative groups and prominent advocates have written to Barr seeking federal intervention, in a letter sent by Conservative Action Project.

Here is an excerpt from the letter, put together by the :

Dear Attorney General Barr,

During these troubled times, we want to thank you for your consistent stance to protect constitutional freedoms of the American people. Thank you, in particular, for focusing the Department of Justice (DOJ) on protecting religious freedom and First Amendment rights, as well as for your public statement against abuses of religious freedom through state and local coronavirus orders and the Statement of Interest filed by the DOJ in federal court in Mississippi just this week.

Because of the rampant abuses of constitutional rights and civil liberties through the myriad orders issued by the governors and local officials nationwide, as part of the response to COVID-19, we urge you to undertake immediate review of all the orders that have been issued by the states and local governments across the nation. Although the orders are for the purpose of slowing the spread of the coronavirus, the nature and enforcement of the orders have increasingly raised serious concerns about violating the basic protections and rights guaranteed under the United States Constitution. A few examples include:

  • Arresting pro-life counselors for peacefully standing outside an abortion clinic while maintaining social distance
  • Government officials arresting and handcuffing a father in front of his child for playing catch outdoors
  • Arresting a man for surfing
  • Ticketing citizens for attending a drive-in church service on church property, in their own cars.
  • Police officers telling an African American pastor that his rights are suspended because of coronavirus orders
  • Prohibitions on citizens’ rights to purchase firearms.
  • Claiming the right to assemble in protests against state shelter-in-place orders is not an “essential activity”

While government has the authority to act to protect public health during a time of pandemic, the United States Constitution requires that any government actions must be narrowly tailored to ensure that rights enshrined in the Constitution are not abrogated. Protecting the lives of its people is one of the important purposes of the very existence of our government, but there is no constitutional authority for any level of government to use the emergency as a justification for abusing its power and violating the most cherished Constitutional freedoms of the people of this country. Petty, would-be, dictators are attempting use the crisis as an opportunity to flex their perceived new muscles at the expense of the Constitution, and even telling citizens their right to protest such excess has been “suspended”.

The group is seeking the following action from DOJ:

As the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, we call on you to halt the spread of these unconstitutional orders and enforcement tactics against the American people. We urge you to immediately assemble a task force at DOJ to do the following:

  • Review all local and state orders
  • Ensure that every order is narrowly tailored to address specific, identified and identifiable risks, and are not wholesale restrictions on the rights of citizens
  • Issue national guidelines for enforcement that reflect the Constitutional rights of the American people
  • Notify those state and local officials of the Constitutional deficiencies in their orders and request voluntary revision or cessation of enforcement of provisions that are identified by your review as violating the Constitution
  • Initiate litigation to enjoin the enforcement of orders that are not narrowly tailored and which infringe upon the basic rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Many see this crisis as an opportunity to reduce liberty and enlarge government power in permanent ways. We will do all in our power to make sure this does not happen. We urge the DOJ to take numerous, specific actions, right now, to focus and act against this disturbing new danger to our country’s future.

Although I think Barr’s heart is in the right place, I don’t see any federal action except in very clear cases of constitutional violations, such as the church drive-in cases. In those cases, the underlying restriction was not challenged, only that it was applied in a way that burdened religious groups more than non-religious groups. I also could see federal action for 2nd Amendment abuses.

But I don’t expect federal action to go beyond that.  It will be up to individuals to challenge unconstitutional government action in court, but I’m not expecting courts to act if there is a straight-faced health justification.

To a large extent, only political protests and pressure can address the irrational restrictions being imposed. The small number of protests that have taken place so far seem to have had an impact.


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“Although I think Barr’s heart is in the right place, I don’t see any federal action…”

Barr is not a wartime consigliere.

He’s proving to be the boehner of attorney generals.

“consigliere”. Appropriate term.

    obama had holder and lynch – who were actually involved in criminal acts during their time in office.

    Unlike Barr or sessions. (But both are proving useless in protecting us against the kind of criminality of obama, holder, lynch et al. This will only ensure it will happen again. ABSOLUTELY ensure it will happen again. (Good work, Bill Boehner.)

    obama’s entire presidency was one long crime spree.

Realistically, the fed can’t review everything, every state and city is doing.

They might follow up on specific complaints but in most cases by the time they get around to taking action, conditions will have changed and courts will deem the issues moot.

Best we can hope for now is someone with good knowledge of the Constitution putting together some guidelines about what is and is not acceptable and how to take action at the local level, so people will be ready for next time (which might not be very far off).

    “Realistically, the fed can’t review everything…”

    They’ve reviewed nothing.

    4fun in reply to irv. | April 19, 2020 at 9:23 pm

    Not a lawyer.
    What does it take to charge these governors or law dogs (Wyatt Earp movie bit) to be charged with violations Under the Color of Law?
    We’re told often as youngsters that Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Same should apply to cops and governors.
    So if the Constitution is getting raped by governors and law dogs then charging a few of them with an appropriate penalty might make the rest back down a bit?

      ray in reply to 4fun. | April 19, 2020 at 10:22 pm

      You misspelled “shooting”.

      JusticeDelivered in reply to 4fun. | April 19, 2020 at 10:28 pm

      I live in Michigan.

      As long as I can remember, school administrators have been pulling similar crap, and getting away with it.

      What bugs me the most is being past the time I should have been planting starter plants in my greenhouse. While I have many of the seeds I need, I was completely out of cherry and Roma tomato varieties.

      This is really stupid, and the problem I am running into is that Amazon is reneging on Prime 2 day shipping, now quoting three and four week delivery.

      I think Amazon is saving money to pay for building their food distribution business (using CCP virus as cover), and that they are shafting existing customers. I bought into Prime solely for 2 day delivery, if they cannot, or will deliver what they promised, then they are no longer a viable supplier. F Amazon

        notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to JusticeDelivered. | April 19, 2020 at 11:01 pm


        That is exactly what Amazon.con is doing.

        I discovered they will delover anything – even if it is not groceries – to Whole Foods lockers…..

        Rush Limbaugh hit the nail on the head when he coiled the term “Femi-nazi”.

        Whitmer sure fits the bill.

        The DOG – er, DOJ – would sue the state actors, and look to the courts to back fascist state actors into their cages.

        This is what marital law looks like, everybody. All that’s missing is that knock on our doors in the middle of the night…

        I live in Michigan also. I went to the seed packet aisle, it looks a lot like everyone is buying them or stealing them. No tape around the seeds in the two stores I stopped by today and the seeds had been hit hard.
        Lots of empty spaces in one store and the other had the seeds in the middle of an aisle.

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to irv. | April 19, 2020 at 9:33 pm

    There are millions of people who have legal standing to sue for damages!

    I know this is an unpopular concept for many of our lawyers posting comments here but it’s not about lawyers filing conceptual complaints and waiting for courts or the DOJ to do something. We have to be out there “on he streets” having our rights violated en-masse.

    I’ll leave it to our professor to define what me means by “legal” insurrection but to me, if it is in the constitution (God-given INALIENABLE rights}, it is the government that is breaking the law. We need to be out there exercising our rights and being repressed if this is going to work.

    Trump is signalling to us loud and clear that he is behind us all the way. Police chiefs are signalling they will not enforce these unconstitutional laws. Privately, I have been personally assured by a high ranking police official that the cops are on our side. Now we need to go out there and force the issue. The DOJ is already filing specific cases but it’s not the lawyers and judges that will win this fight. It’s us!

    Let’s head into November restaging the 1968 Democratic convention out on the streets across the country. Let’s not wait until we on our hands and knees in a dump scavenging for food for having waited for lawyers to work their way through a court system that is severely compromised and corrupted. All we have to do is leave our homes and start living again.

      Close The Fed in reply to Pasadena Phil. | April 20, 2020 at 9:27 am

      Agree with Phil. Just go out there and do your thing. They can’t arrest everyone.

      I’ve been doing my thing, but I’m a homebody, soooooo not much help in making a statement.

      I see Texas has reopened their parks. Maybe I’ll take a trip and camp.

        In the past week, I went and got a haircut aided and abetted by my barber who opened shop. I also went for a 10-mile run Saturday morning and will be running a half marathon on Sunday.

        Every day, there are more and more people out on the streets. So far, the cops have been very relaxed about all of this. They still wave at me during my 5 am runs. So far so good.

        The biggest impact I have seen is the major decrease in rush hour traffic. People are not working and getting increasingly frustrated so they are walking their dogs more often and longer. This is the legal insurrection building up as we re-occupy main street.

      rebelgirl in reply to Pasadena Phil. | April 20, 2020 at 10:18 am

      Agree! The push has to come from the people not the DOJ! My business is open although there are few customers. I had my hair cut and colored last week by a hairdresser who came to my house. I am planning to participate in a blockade protest at my state capitol.
      Come on people! Do what you can do!

      SuddenlyHappyToBeHere in reply to Pasadena Phil. | April 20, 2020 at 11:07 am

      “Let’s head into November restaging the 1968 Democratic convention out on the streets across the country.”

      And how did that work out for the Democrats? “

Let’s see what happens. Recent reports suggest that the DoJ investigation headed by MR Durham is producing. I would think that the AG would want air tight cases before proceeding to seek convictions. Especially given the lengths the partisans in government and the media shills will go to in order to obscure and seek to make them seem illegitimate.

The DoJ has acted in the most egregious case in Mississippi. I can see that it would be better in a long-term practical sense to join with plaintiffs briefs. Perhaps resulting in decades long DoJ oversight, scrutiny and prior consent decrees being imposed upon these states. Especially related to, use of private property, firearms purchase, assembly and religious congregation.

The irony of New Jersey, California, Washington, Michigan etc being forced into consent decrees regarding those rights with DoJ oversight and needing to request prior approval is too tempting a goal to ignore, IMO.

    Recent reports suggest that the DoJ investigation headed by MR Durham is producing.
    We had recent reports during the Benghazi investigation and many others that hildabeast would be put on trial.
    I’m not holding my breath for Durham or anyone else until we start seeing perp walks.

      CommoChief in reply to 4fun. | April 19, 2020 at 10:25 pm

      Maybe it will maybe it won’t. Regardless of what we want to happen the prosecution will need a case that can overcome a D.C. jury.

      So let’s see what happens.

The Friendly Grizzly | April 19, 2020 at 9:25 pm

Nothing will be done. It will eventually fall to the people.

    Exactly what I’m saying. The lawyers can hold moot court as much as they want but until we get back out there and reclaim our lives, it’s all talk and political scheming. All we have to do is go out the door and return to what we were doing before this started.

    Personally, I believe states will start re-opening and the fascist governors and mayors will fold when they get left behind. Get Texas and those 28 (24?) states who already meet the new requirements to re-open and it’s all over. We win.

thad_the_man | April 19, 2020 at 9:29 pm

I think civil suits are better suited for this Robert Barnes has started several and as I am reading this I am waiting for the stqart of a live stream of him discussing this:

All of the people involved in creating and signing these state executive orders and those who are enforcing them, like these cops,

every one of them,


Think about that. They swore (probably on a Bible, dressed in nice clothing while their family members looked on with pride and admiration) that their volitionally-taken oath actually meant something.

One of the strengths of our republican form of government is that each officer in which public trust is placed takes it upon his/her shoulders to do his/her duty. This provides multiple levels of strength that the text of the Constitution will be followed. The Article VI oath – and the counterpart oath taken by state officials pertaining to each state’s own constitution – is taken individually. It is an affirmative duty of EACH officer to know and follow the Constitution and laws made pursuant to it. The duty imposed is personal, not dependent on what superiors do. In fact, as an order is given to an oath taker, that oath taker is to independently assess the validity of the order in terms of their personal oath.

This is a bulwark against tyranny. Which we now see is worthless.

As proof that the oath is personal, here’s the oath required (5 USC section 3331) for federal office holders (states’ oaths are similar),

“I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Personal pronouns, “I” six times, “me” once.

State oaths also contain the “I pledge” promises.

    stablesort in reply to fscarn. | April 20, 2020 at 11:43 am

    I understand your sentiment, but where police officers determine which laws are valid is a very dangerous place to live.

      rdmdawg in reply to stablesort. | April 20, 2020 at 1:44 pm

      The Nuremberg Trials made it clear to everybody that ‘I was just following orders!’ is never a sufficient defense. ALL of these cops need to be arresting for enforcing illegal orders.

It seems to me there is this problem…
The States make this stuff up as they go…
Write new laws and apply them.
But, they do not conform to our Constitutional rights, or the first 10 amendments.
This puts us in a position, if charged with a violation of these laws… of carrying the battle to the Government, out of our pocket.
We should go back to that bill of rights, and add another one:
I’d call it… the ” No more bullshit Amendment ”
Either the law conforms to the Constitution and the first 10 amendments… as determined by ( Here is a problem ) X
What is going on here is a common Man is subjected to decree by the State Government, and forced to fight them in a courtroom, where the Government has absolutely unlimited assets, and the common Man has whatever loose change he can find under the pillows in the couch.

Remember that barr is a member, or agent, of the Establishment faction that wants to avoid a civil war. He does not support Trump of the common people. His job is to maintain the status quo and avoid cataclysmic societal upheavals. The Barr DOJ arrested Jeffrey Epstein to get the insane “Get Trump” faction to back off, before they started a civil war.

Well, the intransigence of certain governors and local political leaders is rapidly producing the same scenario, armed insurrection by the common people. Threatening to take action for civil rights violations by governors and mayors is designed to get these actors to back down and open the society back up, before the peasants revolt. It may or may not work. But, don’t look for the FBI to be escorting governors out of the Governor’s mansion in cuffs in the near future.

    Close The Fed in reply to Mac45. | April 20, 2020 at 9:36 am

    Mac, you make an extremely salient point.

    Barr being part of the establishment also explains why he advises Trump, both privately and publicly, to defer to pipsqueak federal district court judges that issue injunctions as though they were cups of coffee.

    Trump should have muscled up, exerted his prerogative as president, and ignored the injunctions against his travel bans, etc. Co-equal branch and all that.

    Instead, he’s tied down like Gulliver by the Lilliputians.

The rubber-spined governor of Massachusetts shut down gun stores. We cannot purchase ammunition because no one sells it. I think that ammo can be purchased from out of state but the cost for shipping makes it prohibitively expensive.

The AG for Massachusetts is a mini-Nazi of the worst sort so residents have no redress, no petition, no representation, we are truly victims of an intolerant enforcement structure.

As to Constitutional Rights? In Massachusetts they are “flexible” depending on relativity. If the “authorities” decide that the Constitution is inconvenient they temporarily suspend it, knowing that there is nothing that any citizen can do in the immediate situation.

During this manufactured emergency masquerading as a pandemic–another word for global–we are seeing just how French the citizens really are, instantly capitulating to local thuggery or abject tyrants as Gretchen “Greta” The Horrible of Michigan.

Forget that 4th of July stuff, Americans are no longer independent. To the contrary, socialist liberals have nearly succeeded in making the entire country dependent on a single source government, held hostage by debauched, wretched and wicked characters as Pelosi and her cadre of ugly.

    fscarn in reply to NotKennedy. | April 20, 2020 at 10:53 am

    Until the people themselves both know and demand that government control itself by the bounds of the federal and MA constitutions, we’ll continue to get Bakers, Healys, Politos, Marty Walsh, and Democrats too numerous to mention.

    We, like all states, need a few citizen-led chapters of the Birch Society to teach our fellow citizens the courses in civics that the schools purposefully do not teach. Too many forget or never knew that the purposes of our constitutions was to LIMIT the governments.

      fscarn in reply to fscarn. | April 20, 2020 at 11:05 am

      “It is the common fate of the indolent [those who complain but who are unwilling to act] to see their rights become a prey to the active [the ceaseless left who will NOT leave us alone]. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break [fails to protect], servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.” John Philpot Curran (1750-1817).

      The ceaseless left who will NOT leave us alone, coming up with one stupid, freedom-depriving idea after another (e.g., New Green Deal, boys in girls rooms/sports; 000s of examples could be listed).

      This is how Brandeis expressed it, Olmstead v. US (1928) (dissent),

      “The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man’s spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They knew that only part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred against the government, the right to be let alone—the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.”

Mr. Barr, talk is cheap. Let’s see some action.

This is all above my pay grade

While there are a few Republican governors engaged in this “overreach,” the vast majority are – big surprise – Leftists. Scratch a Leftist and you will invariably find a totalitarian dictator wannabe underneath. And are they ever proving it now.