Among all the governors in the country, few can compete with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer when it comes to using the coronavirus pandemic to keep her citizens under the government’s thumb. Fancying dreams of dictatorship, Whitmer has gone well beyond sensible health recommendations and restrictions to implement rules that are blatantly unconstitutional. Last week, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that she’d gone too far.
In April, Whitmer cited two Michigan laws — the Emergency Management Act of 1976 and the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act from 1945 — as giving her all the authority she needed to keep her restrictions going throughout the spring and summer.
The court disagreed: “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. 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.”
But Whitmer, in a statement released this weekend, said that regardless of the court’s orders, she could keep the restrictions in place for as long as possible.
“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,” she said. “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,” Whitmer said.
With this declaration, Whitmer has moved from a would-be dictator to someone who is actively defying a court ruling to keep holding on to unwarranted, ungranted power. It’s time for the courts and the Michigan legislature to take decisive action, and if they won’t do it, the people of Michigan need to hold a recall vote. This is getting outrageous, if not democratically dangerous.