Michigan Supreme Court Rules 7-0, Sides With Barber Who Defied Whitmer’s Lockdown Orders

Written by Martin Walsh

The Michigan state Supreme Court has sided with Owosso barber Karl Manke’s appeal over Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus lockdown order.

In a 7-o decision, the state’s highest court ruled to vacate the Court of Appeals’ decision that ordered Shiawassee County Circuit Court Judge Matthew A. Stewart to issue a preliminary injunction to shut down Manke’s shop.

The case has been remanded to the Court of Appeals for additional consideration.

Whitmer’s lockdown orders have been consistent with those pushed and supported by top Democrats, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Last month, Manke made national headlines after he was fined and stripped of his license to cut hair for refusing to comply with Whitmer’s lockdown order.

Arguing that he has the right to work, Manke reopened his barbershop in defiance of Whitmer’s lockdown policy on May 4.

For this, he was ticketed, charged with a misdemeanor, and had his license suspended.

Its majority opinion argued that “once the governor declared a public health emergency, the Legislature determined that it was up to the department to issue orders protecting the public health.”

“Accordingly, in order to challenge the exercise of that authority, appellee had to present evidence that appellant overstepped the statutory boundaries,” the appeals court opinion continued. “Appellee failed to present any evidence to rebut the department’s conclusion that the operation of the barbershop posed a serious public health danger.”

However, the state’s Supreme Court didn’t agree with that reasoning.

According to Justice David Viviano, “Courts decide legal questions that arise in the cases that come before us according to the rule of law.”

“One hopes that this great principle — essential to any free society, including ours — will not itself become yet another casualty of COVID-19,” Vivano added.

David A. Kallman, Manke’s attorney, said they are “ecstatic” about the order.

“We feel our legal arguments have been vindicated by the court’s ruling,” Kallman said. “This has a big impact on the hearing that was set for next Thursday.”

“We’re very pleased. We’re happy and it’s a 7-0 decision by the Supreme Court,” Kallman said.

This is the second case in the past week regarding lockdown orders being challenged.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by a group of southern California churches calling for a lift on the size of its worship services.

In a 5-4 vote, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the four liberal justices to keep the state’s limits of 25 percent capacity or 100 people in place.

The South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista, California, in the San Diego area, wanted to allow 200 to 300 people to attend each service.

The church argued that limits on attendees violate constitutional religious freedom guarantees.

So far, the U.S. Supreme Court has not overturned any governor’s lockdown orders, although state supreme courts have done so on several occasions.

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