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Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s state of emergency declaration over the pandemic has been deemed unconstitutional by the Michigan Supreme Court.
According to the court, the two laws in question are the 1976 Emergency Management Act (EMA) and the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act (EPGA). MLive reports the court ruled that Whitmer lacked the authority to extend the state of emergency, which she passed on April 30 during the height of the pandemic.
“We conclude that the Governor lacked the authority to declare a ‘state of emergency’ or a ‘state of disaster’ under the EMA after April 30, 2020, on the basis of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the court ruled. “Furthermore, we conclude that the EPGA is in violation of the Constitution of our state because it purports to delegate to the executive branch the legislative powers of state government – including its plenary police powers – and to allow the exercise of such powers indefinitely. As a consequence, the EPGA cannot continue to provide a basis for the Governor to exercise emergency powers.”
Whitmer stated that the decision has put Michigan at risk for a resurgence of the coronavirus, calling it “deeply disappointing”. She further stated, “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.”
“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,” Whitmer said in a statement. “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.”
Whitmer added that her lockdown order is to remain in place for 21 more days following the ruling. A number of unspecified actions will remain in effect under different authority, she said.
“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,” the statement said.
Whitmer faced a backlash in April following the first lockdown, as protestors descended upon the capital to pressure Whitmer to ease the guidelines, which have impacted businesses statewide.