Thursday, April 30, 2020

Office of Attorney General Releases Memo on COVID and Civil Liberties

A Department of Justice memo was issued on April 27th, 2020 by the Office of the Attorney General related to monitoring state and local directives that could be violating the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individual citizens. Times of crisis require us to make actions that are outside the scope of normal. There is some judgement on how far of a reach these decisions should extend and when or when they are not appropriate. Because we are an interconnected society there will inevitably come times during a crisis when individual liberties could be impacted. It appears this memo seeks to "keep an eye out" for instances where that may occur and take action to correct the situation when necessary.

Two main points are below:

 "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 COVID19 into an overbearing infringement of constitutional and statutory protections, the Department of Justice may have an obligation to address that overreach in federal court (Barr, April 27th, 2020, para 3) .

"I am therefore directing the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Eric Dreiband, and Matthew Schneider; the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, to oversee and coordinate our efforts to monitor state and local policies and, if necessary, take action to correct them (Barr, April 27th, 2020 Para 4)."

Barr, W. (April 27th, 2020). Balancing Public Safety with the Preservation of Civil Rights. Office of Attorney General, para 3 & 4.

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