WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General William Barr drew sharp condemnation Thursday for comparing lockdown orders during the coronavirus pandemic to slavery.
In remarks Wednesday night at Hillsdale College in Michigan, Barr had called the lockdown orders the “greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history” since slavery.
Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., the No. 3 House Democratic leader, told CNN that Barr’s remarks were “the most ridiculous, tone-deaf, God-awful things I’ve ever heard” because they wrongly equated human bondage with a measure aimed at saving lives.
“Slavery was not about saving lives. It was about devaluing lives,” Clyburn said. “This pandemic is a threat to human life.”
This is not the first occasion that Barr has condemned stay-at-home orders.
He has previously said that some orders were “disturbingly close to house arrest,” and the Justice Department sent letters to several states warning that some of their virus-related restrictions might be unlawful. Prosecutors also filed statements of interest in several civil cases challenging some of the restrictions.