On her Tuesday show, MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell was in disbelief at the idea that the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division might sue states and localities for violating the Constitution with excessive stay-at-home orders. It was not the first time Mitchell expressed confusion at the idea that the constitution still applies, even during a pandemic.
Mitchell asked former Obama official Jeremy Bash if there was something else to Attorney General Barr's memo, directing U.S. Attorneys to be on the lookout for unconstitutional orders, "[Barr] has been arguing that there may be federal lawsuits, having not coincidentally, perhaps, the Detroit Assistant U.S. Attorney in Detroit, which is of course Michigan, key battleground state where the president has been battling with the governor for her restrictions. Look at states where the governments may be too restrictive."
She then suggested the administration was being hypocritical. "That is completely contradictory to the arguments being made in the White House guidelines, that not a single state opening up has met the guidelines for phase one."
Of course, it's not. There's a difference between banning gatherings of a certain amount of people and banning church services, even when the attendees stay in their cars. There is a difference between ordering non-essential businesses closed and roping off the gardening section of stores that are open anyway or banning travel to one's own property.
However, such nuance was difficult for Bash, who argued, "This is just the politicization of law enforcement, of the legal system to I guess advance the president's view that states and communities should be coerced into opening, they should be forced into sending people to work, to opening day cares and schools so that, I guess, the infection can spread but at least there will be some economic upside."
Proving that even during a pandemic, some things never change, Bash then accused Barr of simply doing President Trump's bidding, "So I don't really understand the attorney general's strategy other than perhaps because he wants the president to say 'Attaboy, way to go!' in the same way the attorney general’s done the president’s bidding in a number of other contexts."
Does anyone think Bash never did President Obama's bidding, told him to go pound sand? Would Bash argue that Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder was wrong to call himself Obama's "wingman"?
Mitchell also saw hypocrisy in the memo and was stupefied that the DOJ would seek to uphold the Constitution. "Apparently it was after recommendations from Ed Meese, a former Reagan attorney general, and it is appealing to certain part of the base clearly, but they're talking about using the Civil Rights Division, that the constitutional rights of people are being violated by the governor's warnings, which, again, is contradictory to the president belatedly conceding he's not in charge, the governors are in charge."