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Port: Minot lawmaker criticizes courts for halting evictions, urges Burgum not to issue an order

PHOTO: State Rep. Dan Ruby (R-Minot)
State Rep. Dan Ruby (R-Minot), pictured here at a District 38 NDGOP event in 2019. (photo via Facebook)
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MINOT, N.D. — A state lawmaker from the Minot area is urging Gov. Doug Burgum "not to yield" to political pressure brought by a coalition of non-profit groups and left-wing political interests to issue an executive order halting evictions in the state.

In a letter to Burgum sent late last week, Rep. Dan Ruby, a Republican representing District 38, is also critical of the state Supreme Court for their order halting eviction proceedings.

"I am asking that you not yield to the political pressure that some are using during this tragic time in our state," Ruby wrote in the letter which he also provided to me. "I question the motives of some who are calling for this action in the light of all the assistance that is being provided now and considered for the future."

You can read the full letter below.

Ruby goes on to argue that landowners who rent their property have expenses too, which they may not be able to meet if renters don't pay and they're denied the relief of an eviction proceeding:

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EMBED: Excerpt from Rep. Dan Ruby letter on evictions

Unfortunately, the policy debate over whether or not Burgum should or should not issue an order related to evictions has been preempted by the judicial branch of state government. For better or worse, the state Supreme Court has issued an order halting those specific types of proceedings, rendering an executive a moot point.

I've been critical of the courts for this move, and Rep. Ruby sees it as inappropriate as well.

"I think the N.D. Supreme Court is wrong not to allow eviction cases to go to court," he wrote. "Their role is not to set policy. They need to uphold the responsibilities of the court so everyone has equal access to the courts."

Ruby concludes his letter describing any potential order suspending evictions as "likely an over-reach of Executive Authority."

I'm not sure I agree with that last bit. Chapter 37-17.1 of the North Dakota Century Code gives the office of governor expansive powers during a time of emergency, and suspending evictions could probably be justified under the current language.

The case for Burgum's authority to pause evictions is undoubtedly a lot stronger than the one the state's courts used.

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I'll leave it to others to decide if Burgum can issue such an order. What's important now is whether he should.

And he most definitely should not.

For their part, at least some of the interests pushing for a suspension of evictions say they're not out to get landlords.

I interviewed Dane DeKrey from the ACLU of North Dakota about the issue. "We have no interest in trying to screw landlords," he told me .

Here's our full interview:

Here is Ruby's letter:

Ruby Letter by Rob Port on Scribd

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To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com

Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at rport@forumcomm.com .

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTADOUG BURGUM
Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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