Michigan Supreme Court Strikes Down Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's Pandemic Powers

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled Friday that Governor Gretchen Whitmer had no authority to issue executive orders relating to the pandemic beyond April 30.

Whitmer had defied the Republican legislature which had been seeking to rein in Whitmer’s draconian response to the coronavirus, which included barring Michigan residents from moving between homes in the state or using motorboats, and stopping stores from selling carpeting, flooring, furniture, garden supplies, or paint.


Now the state Supreme Court has ruled those orders illegal.


But the Michigan Supreme Court Friday ruled that Gov. Whitmer did not possess the authority under the EMA to re-declare a state of emergency or disaster based on the pandemic and that the EPGA was an “unlawful delegation of legislative power to the executive branch in violation of the Michigan Constitution.”

“Accordingly, the executive orders issued by the Governor in response to the Covid-19 pandemic now lack any basis under Michigan law,” the justices’ opinion reads.

This is exactly what Republican legislators had been arguing for months: Whitmer did not have the authority to supersede the legislature, even in an emergency.

The Supreme Court scolded Whitmer for her executive overreach.

Washington Examiner:

It notes a wide variety of businesses that had to close as a result of the orders, including “restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, bars, taverns, brew pubs, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, clubs, hookah bars, cigar bars, vaping lounges, barbershops, hair salons, nail salons, tanning salons, tattoo parlors, schools, churches, theaters, cinemas, libraries, museums, gymnasiums, fitness centers, public swimming pools, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities, exercise studios, spas, casinos, and racetracks.”

“These policies exhibit a sweeping scope, both with regard to the subjects covered and the power exercised over those subjects. Indeed, they rest on an assertion of power to reorder social life and to limit, if not altogether displace, the livelihoods of residents across the state and throughout wide-ranging industries,” the ruling continues.


Long after other states had begun to relax the stay-at-home restrictions, Whitmer maintained her iron grip on the state. There was a petition to remove her from office and large, noisy — and armed — demonstrations were held at the Capitol building that scared the pants off Democrats and the media, although the protesters were never a threat to anyone.

The Michigan Supreme Court issued its opinion at the request of the US District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

The district court had asked the justices “to resolve questions concerning the constitutional and legal authority of the Governor to issue executive orders over the past six months limiting public and private gatherings, closing and imposing restrictions upon certain businesses, and regulating a broad variety of other aspects of the day-to-day lives of our state’s citizens in an effort to contain the spread of this contagious and sometimes deadly disease.”

It followed a lawsuit filed by three medical centers against Whitmer in federal court challenging her executive order that prohibited nonessential procedures during the pandemic.

How many other governors overreached but haven’t been called out on it? In Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker had the state’s Democratic-dominated Supreme Court in his pocket, which ruled he had not overstepped his authority despite measures similar to Whitmer’s. But many states resisted challenges to the governors’ lockdown orders, claiming the emergency meant they could do anything they wanted to. They were backed by public health officials who wouldn’t know a Constitution from a scalpel. So Americans were brought to heel by measures that many Americans resisted but too many supported.

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