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HILLSDALE, Michigan, September 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The COVID-19 lockdowns imposed across the country are one of the “greatest intrusion(s) on civil liberties in American history,” U.S. Attorney General William Barr said Wednesday.

Barr was addressing students at Hillsdale College for Constitution Day. In comments that were not part of his prepared remarks, he compared a national lockdown with “house arrest,” and said “other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history,” CNN reported.

Barr’s comments (which CNN and other left-wing outlets have misquoted as claiming lockdowns are worse than slavery) are the latest stand the Trump administration’s top cop has taken against government overreach in the name of containing the coronavirus. 

In April, he directed the Justice Department to monitor the states for emergency measures that cross the line “from an appropriate exercise of authority to stop the spread of COVID-19 into an overbearing infringement of constitutional and statutory protections.”

Elsewhere in the speech, Barr elaborated on the importance of holding the federal prosecutorial apparatus to clear, objective standards.

“Name one successful organization where the lowest level employees’ decisions are deemed sacrosanct. There aren’t any,” he said. “Letting the most junior members set the agenda might be a good philosophy for a Montessori preschool, but it’s no way to run a federal agency. Good leaders at the Justice Department—as at any organization—need to trust and support their subordinates. But that does not mean blindly deferring to whatever those subordinates want to do.”

“This criminalization of politics is not healthy,” he went on. “The criminal law is supposed to be reserved for the most egregious misconduct — conduct so bad that our society has decided it requires serious punishment, up to and including being locked away in a cage. These tools are not built to resolve political disputes and it would be a decidedly bad development for us to go the way of third world nations where new administrations routinely prosecute their predecessors for various ill-defined crimes against the state. The political winners ritually prosecuting the political losers is not the stuff of a mature democracy.”