State Watch

Michigan Supreme Court again rules against Whitmer’s COVID-19 orders

The Michigan Supreme Court on Monday ruled against a request by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) to delay the enactment of a previous court decision that determined she did not have the authority to continue a state of emergency amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

On Oct. 2, the court ruled that neither the state’s Emergency Management Act (EMA) from 1976 nor the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act (EPGA) gave Whitmer the right to extend her initial state of emergency order past April 30. 

In a motion filed last week, Whitmer requested that the court allow more time before its ruling is put into effect so that there could be “an orderly transition during which some responsive measures can be placed under alternative executive authority and the Governor and Legislature can work to address many other pandemic-related matters that currently fall under executive orders.”

However, the court denied her request in Monday’s decision, upholding its reasoning in the Oct. 2 ruling that the court’s “decision leaves open many avenues for the Governor and Legislature to work together to address this challenge” of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Whitmer had extended the state of emergency to the end of April by executive order after the Republican-led state legislature moved forward with a bill preventing her from renewing the original declaration. 

The state Supreme Court also found in its earlier ruling that the EPGA violated the state’s constitution, 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 Markman wrote in the majority opinion

“As a consequence, the EPGA cannot continue to provide a basis for the Governor to exercise emergency powers,” he added.

The court opinion also added the possibility of the governor issuing a state of emergency under alternative laws, or other actions that would enable her administration to respond to COVID-19 infections across the state. 

As of Monday, Michigan has reported a total of 151,396 confirmed cases of COVID-19, as well as 7,225 deaths. 

Whitmer has imposed some of the most stringent restrictions on businesses and activities during the pandemic, which has drawn intense criticism from President Trump as he has pushed states to reopen. 

In a tweet last week, the president claimed Whitmer had “done a terrible job” in her handling of the coronavirus pandemic and “locked down her state for everyone.”

Tags coronavirus covid-19 court ruling Donald Trump Executive Order Gretchen Whitmer Michigan

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