The constitutionality of a number of coronavirus-related mandates from Montana and neighboring Idaho have certain of their residents in an uproar. From bans on religious gatherings to ‘shelter-in-place’ orders to restrictions on commerce, the fiercely independent citizens of the upper Rockies are exercising their right to protest actions of state and county governments they consider to be dubious.
In Kalispell Montana, the city government declared a State of Local Emergency in an 8-1 vote, authorizing city manager, Doug Russell, sole discretion in organizing government responses and also cedes control of certain aspects of government away from elected officials and delegates them to the county health department. Because health department officials are unelected, some local residents are convinced the decision is nothing less than an infringement of constitutional government.
Most concerning, the State of Local Emergency declaration authorizes Russell to “prevent ingress to or egress from all or part of the City and to direct law enforcement to enforce quarantines and curfews.”
These decisions drew a protest of a dozen or so residents, who held signs outside city hall on Monday evening. The protest was organized by Annie Bukacek, who operates the Montana Pro-Life Coalition and also Doctors for a Healthy Montana, which is seeking to sound the alarm on leftist Solutions Caucus members masquerading as Republicans (which we have previously written about here). Bukacek is not popular among leftist Republicans in the state, with Democrat crossover candidate, Joel Krautter (Sidney) referring to her as an “extremist” and “radical” (the Gazette wrote about that story here). However, Dr. Bukacek is highly favored among the state’s conservatives.
Photos published by the Free Beacon show the protestors seemingly being berated by an unhinged woman, apparently overtaken by coronavirus panic (she did not appear to be maintaining the recommended six feet of social distancing in her hysteria).
Unsurprisingly, Montanans don’t like being told where they can go or when they have to be in their homes.
However, neighboring Idahoans are also protesting measures put in place by their state. In what is being called a “Liberty Rebellion,” Ammon Bundy is serving as spokesperson for a group who met in Boise in what was a direct challenge to Governor Little’s meeting ban.
Bundy said, “If it gets bad enough, and our rights are infringed upon enough, we can physically stand in defense in whatever way we need to. But we hope we don’t have to get there.”
Bundy was a central figure in the Bundy Ranch standoff at the ranch owned by his father, Cliven, in 2014. He was later a central figure in the Oregon standoff that occurred in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff in 2016. Both instances involved federal government overreach and left the Bundy’s relatively cleared in the eyes of the law, mostly thanks to the sensibility of jury trials.
Bundy is hoping to help organize an Easter gathering of potentially a thousand people, in which Communion will be observed.
Bundy said, “I will be there, and I will bring as many people as I can. We will form a legal defense for you. We will perform an active political defense for you. And we will also, if necessary, provide a physical defense for you, so that you can continue in your rights.”
As governments around the country are imposing draconian measures like utilization of drones to surveil the public in Detroit and Los Angeles to various arrests of individuals alone on the ocean or families at parks, Montanans and Idahoans are not as likely to take such measures lying down.