When government directly takes or inversely takes private property, our federal and state Constitutions require the payment of just compensation. But when property is taken for an emergency, the result may be different. The federal government has an inherent “police power” to seize property without providing just compensation.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is unprecedented. In the United States, as of May 21, 2020, 93,439 people have died. At least 1,551,853 cases of the disease have been recorded according to Johns Hopkins University. The disease is extremely infectious and has spread across the world resulting in a pandemic which has, so far, caused more than 328,000 deaths from 5.01 million cases. Preventive measures to reduce the chance of infection include staying at home, avoiding crowded places, keeping distance from others and avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands. Governors and mayors have issued executive orders which have required businesses to close, blocked access to public areas, and precluded visitation to friends and relatives. Other directives have included using hotels and properties to house health-care workers. There is no doubt that these quarantine edicts have had a major effect on the economic health of income producing properties and businesses. Many people have been deprived of the ability to earn money to pay landlords their rent. Many small businesses simply will not re-open.
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