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California's attorney general defends virus shutdowns

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Posted at 7:58 AM, Apr 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-18 10:58:55-04

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California's top law enforcement official says that what would normally be broad constitutional protections for freedoms of assembly, religion or buying guns have their limits when they endanger others during the coronavirus pandemic.

The state has been sued over all three shutdown orders as government officials pick winners and losers in which businesses and activities can continue and which must be curtailed to contain spread of the virus.

But Attorney General Xavier Becerra says officials have broad authority to do what they think is necessary to slow the spread, even if that trumps normal fundamental freedoms.

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As of Saturday, California reported more than 29,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

“The Constitution remains in place,” Becerra told The Associated Press. “The Constitution — U.S. and our state constitution — has provisions in it that address emergencies like this. And so I don’t think there’s any doubt that for the protection of people’s not just their health but their lives, our government must take actions which protect our communities and the individuals in those communities.”