Texas attorney general criticizes portion of Gunnison County public health order

Says non-resident homeowner prohibition is unconstitutional

by Mark Reaman

The attorney general of Texas, Ken Paxton is weighing in on the most recent public health orders issued by Gunnison County. Paxton sent a letter to the Gunnison County Department of Health and Human Services and its director Joni Reynolds.  The letter, dated April 9, warns that the order violates the U.S. Constitution by unlawfully discriminating against non-resident homeowners by demanding they vacate Gunnison County.

A copy of the letter was obtained Thursday by the Crested Butte News. Paxton’s letter states that, “While the order contains other laudable measures aimed at protecting public health, its patent discrimination against non-resident homeowners — including Texans who own homes in Gunnison County — runs afoul of the United Stated Constitution.”

The letter, signed by Special Counsel to the Texas Attorney General, David Hacker, goes on to cite case law making the legal argument against that part of the local order but does not threaten legal action against the county. It concludes by asking for “immediate attention to this matter. We would appreciate confirmation that you will modify your order to protect the rights of non-resident homeowners.”

Paxton commented that “While I applaud several measures Gunnison County has taken to ensure the health and safety of its citizens, the banishment of non-resident Texas homeowners is entirely unconstitutional and unacceptable. To lawfully prevent Texans from inhabiting or enjoying property they own, regardless of its location within the U.S., is a blatant violation of our Constitution.”

The News reached out to several Gunnison County officials for comment but they were not yet prepared to do so.

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