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Michigan Supreme Court to Hear Challenges to Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Powers

— September 8, 2020

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation is asking the Michigan Supreme Court to consider whether Gov. Whitmer’s executive authorities violate the state constitution.

The Michigan Supreme Court is expected to this week hear legal challenges relating to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s use of executive powers in combating novel coronavirus.

Whitmer, says Michigan Public Radio, has been the target of numerous lawsuits challenging her use of emergency powers amidst the pandemic.

Most such lawsuits against the Whitmer administration—many of which were covered by LegalReader—have been unsuccessful, with Michigan courts repeatedly upholding the governor’s legal right to exercise executive discretion in times of public health crisis and natural disaster.

Michigan Public Radio notes that the Supreme Court will be tasked with evaluating two questions posed by the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, posed as follows:

“Whether, under the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act, MCL § 10.31, et seq., or the Emergency Management Act, MCL § 30.401, et seq., Governor Whitmer has the authority after April 30, 2020, to issue or renew any executive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic; and (2) Whether the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act and/or the Emergency Management Act violates the Separation of Powers and/or the Non-Delegation Clauses of the Michigan Constitution.”

Gov. Whitmer, adds MPR, has extended Michigan’s coronavirus-related State of Emergency several times since the end of March.

As recently as last week, Whitmer again extended the same State of Emergency—declarations which may renew or alter previously-imposed mandates—until the beginning of October. The latest rendition of the order, entitled E.O. 2020-177, entitles Michigan “to continue to mobilize resources and take the reasonable and necessary steps to protect” residents and their families.

Then-state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer delivering a speech in 2011. Image via Flickr/user:swskeptic. (CCA-BY-2.0).

“By extending the state of emergency, we can continue the crucial work needed to save lives,” Whitmer said in a September press release. “Since March, I have been committed to using every tool at my disposal to protect families, frontline workers, and our economy from the thread of COVID-19. I urge Michiganders to do their part by wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing and staying safe and smart.”

To date, Whitmer has been criticized and attacked by a variety of different organizations and entities. Her emergency powers have been challenged by conservatives in the Michigan Legislature, private citizens enraged by mask mandates, and businesses desperate to re-open.

However, Michigan has generally been more successful than other states in arresting the spread of novel coronavirus. Once an epicenter of the United States’ outbreak, Michigan now has a relatively low per-capita positivity rate of 3.3%, just over half the national average.


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Whitmer extends coronavirus state of emergency until Oct. 1

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