MI Supreme Court Rules Gov. Whitmer Exceeded Powers Regarding COVID-19

The Michigan Supreme Court has struck down Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s orders regarding COVID-19. The court has said  a 1945 law the governor cited as giving her the authority to close businesses and take over actions to prevent the spread of the virus does not apply. The court said her use of the law was an “unlawful delegation of legislative power to the executive branch in violation of the Michigan Constitution.”

There has been a long dispute between Whitmer, a Democrat, and the Republicans-led Legislature. They have said they’ve been shut out of major orders that have restricted education, the economy and health care.

Governor Whitmer released the statements below in response, saying her orders remain in effect for at least 21 days. She said after that, many public health and other rules will continue under alternative authorities.

“Since the beginning of this crisis, I have done everything in my power to protect our seniors, small businesses, and first responders from the worst public health emergency in over a century. Thanks to the hard work of millions of Michiganders who sacrificed and did the right thing, we have saved thousands of lives and laid the foundation for a strong economic recovery. But COVID-19 still poses a clear and present danger to the people of Michigan, our economy, and our way of life.

FILE- In this Feb. 4, 2020 file photo, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks with reporters at her office in Lansing, Mich. Whitmer on Friday, Feb. 28 urged residents to follow simple steps to help limit the spread of a new type of virus that has not been confirmed in Michigan but could be eventually. (AP Photo/David Eggert, File)

“This virus has now killed more Michiganders than World War I. It is a novel virus for which there is no cure, and which has infected the President of the United States, members of the United States Congress, and Legislators across our state. This virus continues to take the lives of Americans every single day, and without a cure or approved vaccine, that will continue for the foreseeable future.

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling, handed down by a narrow majority of Republican justices, is deeply disappointing, and I vehemently disagree with the court’s interpretation of the Michigan Constitution. Right now, every state and the federal government have some form of declared emergency. With this decision, Michigan will become the sole outlier at a time when the Upper Peninsula is experiencing rates of COVID infection not seen in our state since April.

“It is important to note that this ruling does not take effect for at least 21 days, and until then, my emergency declaration and orders retain the force of law. Furthermore, after 21 days, many of the responsive measures I have put in place to control the spread of the virus will continue under alternative sources of authority that were not at issue in today’s ruling.

“I know this is hard. We all want this crisis to be over, and we all want life to return to normal as soon as possible. But the only way we will get through this is by pulling together as Americans and working as one nation to defeat this virus. That means wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently, and maintaining six feet of physical distancing. Michiganders have grit, and there is no challenge we can’t meet.

“I want the people of Michigan to know that no matter what happens, I will never stop fighting to keep you and your families safe from this deadly virus.”