Charlotte Talks Politics: Can They Do That? The Constitution And Coronavirus Restrictions

May 4, 2020

Monday, May 4, 2020

Protests against stay-at-home orders in North Carolina and elsewhere have questioned their constitutionality. 

Public opinion of stay-at-home orders has been favorable in national surveys. But a loud - and increasingly armed - contingent has been voicing its displeasure.

Credit Flickr / Lorie Shaull

There have been several weeks of protests in Raleigh. Demonstrators called the state’s shutdown of businesses “tyranny.” They claim their rights to go to work, go to church and do other activities have been violated.

In the North Carolina mountains, a man has sued in federal court, questioning the constitutionality of a coronavirus curfew that he was charged with violating in mid-April.

At the federal level, Attorney General Bill Barr has told prosecutors to look for state and local coronavirus measures that could be viewed as counter to the Constitution and civil liberties.

What powers can the government exercise in a pandemic? Where is it possible that it might step out of bounds?


Bill Marshall, UNC School of Law, William R. Kennan Jr. distinguished professor of law 

Greg Wallace, Campbell University School of Law, professor of law