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Fears for civil rights mount amid fight against coronavirus

CHICAGO (AP) The orders seem prudent in the bid to thwart the spread of the novel coronavirus: Don't go out, don't gather with others and keep your stores closed. But growing segments of the U.S. population say state and federal governments are trampling on freedoms central to American life in the name of protecting public health.

The case is already being made. A church-goer in New Hampshire says prohibitions against large gatherings violate her religious rights. A Pennsylvania golf course owner argues that gubernatorial edicts shuttering his business amount to illegal seizure of his private property.

If civil libertarians aren't yet sounding alarms, many have their hands hovering over the button.

"So far, we haven't had draconian methods, like armed police blocking people's movement in the streets, surveillance and phone tapping," said Larry Gostin, a public health lawyer at Georgetown University. "But we are seeing lockdowns of millions of citizens like we have never seen before."