The landmark 1905 Supreme Court decision in Jacobson v. Massachusetts held that constitutional rights can be lawfully restricted when emergency public health measures are in place, though the precise scope of government public health power is not clearly defined.

But there has not been a direct legal ruling yet on mandatory stay-at-home orders and state and local leaders could find themselves dragged into court fights if they adopt an overly aggressive approach to enforcing mitigation measures, Wiley said.

Governors and local officials may need to walk a tight line in enforcing restrictions.

“Harsh enforcement would probably trigger lawsuits that could be more difficult for state and local leaders to defend than the suits filed so far by churches, gun shops, and health care providers,” she said.