WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, would like the House Judiciary Committee to examine “threats to liberty” posed by the “stay-at-home” orders that governors around the country have issued to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
In a Saturday appearance on Fox News, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee said the committee should be “looking at the threats to liberty we see where governors are saying you’re going to get a ticket if you go to church, where the mayor of Los Angeles, one of our biggest cities, the mayor of Los Angeles said snitches will be rewarded.”
While several states have exempted church services from stay-at-home orders, some pastors have been fined and arrested for conducting in-person services in their churches during a time when authorities are trying to keep crowds from assembling and risking the spread of COVID-19. Many churches have shifted worship online.
In Ohio, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has exempted religious institutions from the state’s ban on gatherings of 10 or more people, but has urged religious leaders to avoid “playing with the lives of your congregation” by hosting large gatherings. While many churches in the state have heeded DeWine’s warnings, one church outside Cincinnati has continued to hold services and received lots of media attention in the area for doing so.
During Saturday’s Fox interview with Jeanine Pirro, Jordan faulted a prosecutor in one of Ohio’s “big counties” for saying “if he were the governor he would call out the National Guard to stop you from going to church.” Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, a Republican, has said that if he were governor “I would tell these churches, the first attendees at your church is going to be the National Guard because we are stopping this right now … No one is asking you not to pray to God. No one is asking you not to pray to Allah. No one is asking you not to pray. It can be done remotely.”
Jordan also used his appearance to blast Democrats for never missing opportunities to “go after President Trump” or “advance their crazy left-wing agenda.”
“Think about what they’re saying right now during this virus,” said Jordan. “They’re saying illegal immigrants should go free. They’re saying we’re going to pay states, think about that, pay states to let criminals out of jail. They say abortion clinics are, quote, essential businesses, and they want to stop you from buying a gun and they want to stop you from going to church. That’s what the Democrats are for.”
Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota has said the nation should “release ICE detainees” and put a “moratorium on incarcerating people who are low risk to others.” To reduce the inmate count in places where the virus could easily spread, thousands of prisoners have been released throughout the country, in states led by both political parties. Ohio’s DeWine has recommended early release of more than 100 non-violent inmates.
Efforts to declare abortion an elective surgical procedure during the pandemic in states including Ohio have been met with lawsuits by abortion rights advocates, who argue the procedure is both essential and time-sensitive. A federal judge has temporarily banned Ohio officials from using a public-health order forbidding nonessential surgeries during the coronavirus pandemic to restrict providers from performing abortions. The Trump administration has ruled that gun shops are “essential” businesses that should stay open during the pandemic while others close.