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CORRECTED: Michigan court refuses to halt governor's stay-at-home order
A Michigan court on Wednesday denied a motion for a preliminary injunction against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's (D) stringent stay-at-home order, finding that the state had the authority to enact such a policy "when faced with a public crisis."
"Although the Court is painfully aware of the difficulties of living under the restrictions of these executive orders, those difficulties are temporary, while to those who contract the virus and cannot recover (and to their family members and friends), it is all too permanent," Michigan Court of Claims Judge Christopher M. Murray wrote.
Murray added that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's (D) order was "consistent with the law" and that residents' constitutional rights are "subject to reasonable regulation by the state."
Whitmer first issued social distancing restrictions on March 24, suspending all activities "not necessary to sustain or protect life."
She has since extended the order through May 15, though the latest directive allows for some nonessential businesses to begin reopening.
The state's restrictions have been met with outrage from some residents, and President Trump earlier this month voiced support for those protesting Whitmer's order. Protesters descended on the governor's home last week to voice opposition to the executive actions.
A group of five Michigan residents filed a lawsuit against the governor and other state officials claiming that the quarantine measures infringed on their constitutional rights to procedural and substantive due process. They also alleged that the state's Emergency Management Act was unconstitutional.
The Michigan Court of Claims ruled that an injunction against Whitmer's order would not serve the public interest, "despite the temporary harm to plaintiffs' constitutional rights."
In his ruling, Murray noted that the interests of "liberty" that the plaintiffs spoke of are "and always have been, subject to society's interests."
"They - our fellow residents - have an interest to remain unharmed by a highly communicable and deadly virus, and since the state entered the Union in 1837, it has had the broad power to act for the public health of the entire state when faced with a public crisis," he wrote, noting the plaintiffs' case did not have a "likelihood of success on the merits."
The outbreak of the coronavirus has led to a number of stay-at-home orders throughout the nation, as governors work to implement measures to slow the spread of the disease.
Michigan's health department has reported more than 40,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and 3,670 deaths from the virus.
Attorney General Dana Nessel cited those statistics in a statement following the Michigan court's decision.
"The primary goal of the Stay Home, Stay Safe order has always been to protect human life," Nessel said.
Despite the protests and lawsuit, polling in the state shows a majority of the state's residents support the governor's handling of the outbreak.
Other polls have also shown a vast majority of Americans back stay-at-home orders like the one issued by Whitmer.
CORRECTION: The Michigan Court of Claims refused to halt Michigan's stay-at-home order but did not issue a ruling on its constitutionality. And earlier version of this story included incorrect information and an incorrect headline.