Bullock Cancels Property Rights During Coronavirus Panic

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock speaks at the Des Moines Register Soapbox during a visit to the Iowa State Fair in August 2018.

A right is ordinarily understood as something that is inviolable, and property possession is often said to be “9/10ths of the law.” Derived from an old Scottish expression, the notion known legally as uti possidetis is a foundational principle in what has become American jurisprudence. However, governors across the country are flexing their emergency powers by treating irrevocable rights like privileges given or taken by the whim of executive order.

Governor Bullock, running for the U.S. Senate seat for Montana, has been aggressive in commandeering executive power in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Bullock took a new and most extreme emergency power yet, unprecedented in the Big Sky State, just today. Governor Bullock has effectively stripped property rights from Montana’s home and property owners, forbidding them enforcing rental and lease contracts legally signed before the pandemic.

In a press release earlier today, Bullock announced the order, which prevents landlords from evicting tenets for non-payment, regardless of whether or not they were behind on their rent or in violation of their rental agreements prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bullock said, “This isn’t a free pass on rent or on home debt. Tenants and home owners still need to meet their obligations, and should do so on time where they can. But as long as this virus forces Montanans to stay home to save lives, Montanans need a home to stay in.”

In addition to the new decree that property owners can’t collect rent, he called in the Montana National Guard to take temperatures of people at airports and bus stations, informing them of mandatory quarantines.

It is likely that Bullock’s move against private property rights will be challenged in the courts once the pandemic is over.


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