Multiple elected leaders across the nation have overstepped their bounds and abused their authority in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the gravest offenders is Michigan’s Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Now, the Michigan Supreme Court has officially determined that Whitmer exceeded the statutory constraints of her office, ruling 4-3 on Friday that a 1945 law Whitmer cited as granting her the authority to issue emergency orders was unconstitutional.
The governor’s orders questioned
Whitmer has faced a number of lawsuits related to her business closure and lockdown orders, including from three Michigan medical centers that took issue with her executive prohibition of “non-essential” health procedures, The Detroit News reported.
That case came down to whether the governor had the authority to impose restrictions on the state’s populace without any coordination or consultation with the state legislature.
Citing the state’s 1976 Emergency Management Act and the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act as giving her the necessary authority, Whitmer has issued or extended more than 190 executive orders since the lockdowns first began in March.
Extended executive orders ‘lack any basis’
According to the ruling from the Michigan Supreme Court, however, the 1945 law “is an unlawful delegation of legislative power to the executive branch in violation of the Michigan Constitution,” the Washington Examiner reported.
Therefore, any and all orders Whitmer issued after April 30 were deemed to “lack any basis under Michigan law.”
“The Governor did not possess the authority to exercise emergency powers under the EPGA because the act unlawfully delegates legislative power to the executive branch in violation of the Michigan Constitution,” the justices ruled.
The ruling means that while the governor can issue lawful executive orders of limited duration in cases of emergency, such orders must receive a stamp of approval from the state legislature in order to be extended past an initial time period. In Michigan’s case, the legislature only approved the first extension of the initial orders.
In response to the ruling, Whitmer said she “vehemently” disagrees with the “deeply disappointing” decision and implied that she would continue to enforce her orders during an appeals process or find a way to work around the ruling “under alternative sources of authority that were not at issue in today’s ruling,” Michigan Live reported.
Chair of the Michigan Republican Party Laura Cox, however, said the ruling marks “a great day for the people of Michigan,” The Detroit News reported.
“The court rightly recognized that the constitution gives the legislature a role to represent the people of this state. Governor Whitmer overexerted her powers,” Cox said. “The legislature wants to be a willing partner in dealing with COVID-19 and Governor Whitmer should recognize their duly delegated role.”