Attorney General William Barr was heavily critical of the COVID-19 lockdown measures that have been implemented across the world this year, saying they represent an almost unprecedented "intrusion on civil liberties," CNN reported.
Barr was speaking at a Constitution Day celebration put on by Hillsdale College in Michigan, when he was asked about the legal ramifications of orders that restrict people from going to church.
"You know, putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest," Barr said. "Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history."
State and local government leaders in March implemented various levels of stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China. Many of those orders were put in place after March 13, when President Donald Trump called for them for 15, and later 30 days.
The president has since claimed that the lockdown measures saved "millions of lives," although the COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. is now heading toward the 240,000 death projection from the White House that seemed extreme to many at the time. Also, there is evidence of a significant death toll directly resulting from the lockdowns themselves in the form of suicides and overdoses.
What else did Barr say?
Barr spoke on a wide variety of topics at the event, including Black Lives Matter, which he accused of not having real interest in black lives at all. From The Federalist:
"They're interested in props, a small number of blacks who are killed by police during conflicts with police—usually less than a dozen a year—who they can use as props to achieve a much broader political agenda," he said. Barr instead views the priorities for black American lives as "not only keeping people alive, but also having prosperity and flourishing their communities."
"Most deaths in the inner city of young black males below the age of 44…is being shot by another black person," he noted. The left likes to talk about "root causes," Barr said, hinting at claims of systemic racism. But all the political changes the BLM movement demands "depend on peaceful streets at the end of the day."
Barr also addressed criticism from Justice Department employees who feel he has been overly partisan in the way he does his job.
"Name one successful organization or institution where the lowest level employees' decisions are deemed sacrosanct, there aren't. There aren't any letting the most junior members set the agenda," Barr said. "It might be a good philosophy for a Montessori preschool, but it is no way to run a federal agency."