Michigan residents, businesses sue governor over stay-at-home order

Michigan residents and landscaping businesses are suing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) for her stay-at-home order, saying the rules infringe on their constitutional rights. 

Whitmer faces at least two federal lawsuits over her April 9 order instructing residents to stay at home to prevent the coronavirus from spreading in the state. The suits were filed Tuesday and Wednesday.

Both lawsuits allege the stay-at-home order infringes on residents’ rights to associate with others under the First Amendment and to have due process.


In the Tuesday suit filed in Detroit, four Michigan residents accuse the governor of taking the order “too far” in restricting businesses and residents from continuing their daily lives. The complaint alleges her order violates the rights "to associate with friends and family and utilize their private property,” according to the complaint published by Detroit station 7 Action News.

The residents include one person who owns a landscaping business, which was instructed to shut down, and another who said he cannot see his girlfriend of 14 years since they live in different homes. Another couple are upset they cannot return to their permanent home because they were at their cabin when the executive order was signed.

Two lawyers and the owner of another landscaping business filed Wednesday’s suit in Grand Rapids. It argues that the plaintiffs "reasonably fear that the draconian encroachments on their freedom set forth in this complaint will, unfortunately, become the 'new norm,' " according to the complaint obtained by Reuters.

Whitmer’s order is similar to others across the country, banning people from leaving their homes except to get essential products like food or medical supplies or for outside physical activity. Travel to second homes or vacation properties is prohibited. 

Businesses cannot mandate workers leave their homes, unless they are important for basic operations or to “sustain or protect life.” The order is scheduled to be in place until the end of April.

Whitmer’s spokesperson Chelsea Lewis told The Hill that the office is unable to comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuits were filed as protests erupted in the state Wednesday against the stay-at-home order, organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition. 

Updated 4:08 p.m.