OPINION | This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Michigan Supreme Court Rules Against Governor Whitmer’s Restrictions

In the era of activist courts it is exceedingly rare that President Donald Trump or Republicans get a win from the courts.

But that is precisely what happened when the Michigan Supreme Court slapped back the draconian measures Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has implemented in her state, NPR reported.

Michigan’s Supreme Court ruled Friday that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lacks the authority to extend or declare states of emergency in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Democratic governor issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in March and expanded it via another executive order in April. The Republican-controlled legislature passed a resolution to extend the state of emergency, but only until April 30. Whitmer has since issued many more orders related to the pandemic.

Whitmer cited two state laws — the Emergency Management Act of 1976 and the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act from 1945 — as granting her the authority to continue the emergency orders past April 30.

But the state Supreme Court, in a 4 – 3 ruling, decided that the governors actions were unconstitutional.

“We conclude that the Governor lacked the authority to declare a ‘state of emergency’ or a ‘state of disaster’ under the EMA after April 30, 2020, on the basis of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, we conclude that the EPGA is in violation of the Constitution of our state because it purports to delegate to the executive branch the legislative powers of state government– including its plenary police powers– and to allow the exercise of such powers indefinitely,” Justice Stephen J. Markman said in the majority opinion.

President Donald Trump celebrated the win for the people of Michigan in a tweet on Twitter.

“We just got a BIG win for the people of Michigan,” he said, in a tweet that included a video of the governor speaking about the decision.

“Open up your Churches and your Schools. Auto companies pouring in and expanding (thank you Mr. President!). Have fun!” he said.

We just got a BIG win for the people of Michigan. Open up your Churches and your Schools. Auto companies pouring in and expanding (thank you Mr. President!). Have fun!

Governor Whitmer was furious with the decision rendered by the court.

“Since the beginning of this crisis, I have done everything in my power to protect our seniors, small businesses, and first responders from the worst public health emergency in over a century. Thanks to the hard work of millions of Michiganders who sacrificed and did the right thing, we have saved thousands of lives and laid the foundation for a strong economic recovery. But COVID-19 still poses a clear and present danger to the people of Michigan, our economy, and our way of life,” she said in a press release.

“This virus has now killed more Michiganders than World War I. It is a novel virus for which there is no cure, and which has infected the President of the United States, members of the United States Congress, and Legislators across our state. This virus continues to take the lives of Americans every single day, and without a cure or approved vaccine, that will continue for the foreseeable future.

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling, handed down by a narrow majority of Republican justices, is deeply disappointing, and I vehemently disagree with the court’s interpretation of the Michigan Constitution. Right now, every state and the federal government have some form of declared emergency. With this decision, Michigan will become the sole outlier at a time when the Upper Peninsula is experiencing rates of COVID infection not seen in our state since April.

“It is important to note that this ruling does not take effect for at least 21 days, and until then, my emergency declaration and orders retain the force of law. Furthermore, after 21 days, many of the responsive measures I have put in place to control the spread of the virus will continue under alternative sources of authority that were not at issue in today’s ruling.

“I know this is hard. We all want this crisis to be over, and we all want life to return to normal as soon as possible. But the only way we will get through this is by pulling together as Americans and working as one nation to defeat this virus. That means wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently, and maintaining six feet of physical distancing. Michiganders have grit, and there is no challenge we can’t meet,” she said.