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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Michigan U.S. Attorney chosen to oversee probe of anti-COVID-19 orders

U.S. Department of Justice

One of Michigan’s U.S. Attorneys has been chosen to oversee federal investigations into state and local anti-COVID-19 measures to determine if they cross the constitutional line.

Attorney General William Barr issued a two-page memo on Monday to U.S. attorneys, saying the department would pursue action in court, if necessary.

Many states have issued orders compelling residents to stay home, with limited exceptions like essential trips for food and other supplies to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Matthew Schneider is the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. 

U.S. Attorney General William Barr picked Schneider  to coordinate with Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Eric Dreiband to coordinate Justice Department investigations into possible “infringement of constitutional and statutory protections” by state and local governments.   

In his memo, Barr concedes “The current national crisis....required the imposition of extraordinary restrictions.”

However, Barr adds “the Constitution is not suspended in times of crisis.”

Some conservatives have accused Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer of overstepping her authority with the imposition of a stay home order that has closed businesses and restricted travel in the state.

The governor has since started lifting some of those restrictions.