The head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division wrote in a harsh letter Friday to Los Angeles officials that he was worried that the mayor and regional health director were taking “an arbitrary approach and a hand-in-hand to continue living at home requirements . ” . “
The letter from Eric Dreiband, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, came in response to comments from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who stated in last week’s “Good Morning America” interview that the city “will never be fully open until we have healing” for coronavirus, which has claimed more than 3,600 lives in California.
“I think we all have to admit that we don’t move beyond Covid-19, we learn to live with it,” Garcetti said.
Dreiband also noted a recent statement by the Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, who said last week that “with all certainty” the form of restrictions on staying at home will remain in force for 10 million county residents “over the next three months.” Ferrer later clarified his statement, saying “while Safer at Home’s orders will remain in place for the next few months, restrictions will be gradually relaxed.”
Earlier this month, California began to reopen the country’s economy, allowing several retail stores, manufacturers and the logistics business to return on May 8. At least 43 of the 58 states are permitted to open further, allowing retail shopping and additional meals at restaurants. Los Angeles, however, where more than 2,000 deaths related to coronavirus have been recorded, have moved more slowly.
DOJ Warning: Dreiband warned in his letter to Garcetti and Ferrer that ongoing restrictions might be “arbitrary and illegal”.
“Your recent public statement indicates that you are suggesting the possibility of a long-term closure of residents in the City and County of Los Angeles, regardless of legal justification for such restrictions. Any such approach can be arbitrary and break the law, “he said.
While local officials can impose restrictions on citizens to protect their safety during emergencies, Dreiband warns that “The constitution and federal laws prohibit arbitrary and unreasonable acts.”
“Simply put, there are no pandemic exceptions to the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights,” he said.