Michigan GOP Leaders Ask State Supreme Court To Rule On Legality Of Governor's Emergency Powers

Sep 9, 2020

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, (D) Michigan
Credit Photo provided by the State of Michigan

Republicans leaders in the Legislature Wednesday asked the Michigan Supreme Court to rule that Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s has abused her emergency powers to address COVID-19.

Their challenge claims Whitmer has continued to issue emergency executive orders even though he legal authority to do so has expired.

Assistant Attorney General Michael Williams is representing the GOP leaders. He says the governor has cut the Legislature out of the process.

"The governor would have a very strong statutory basis to do whatever she wished to do. Her view would empower her to do whatever she’d like throughout the state of Michigan, and those carefully calibrated levers of government would instead be ignored,” Williams said.

Whitmer says she can continue to issue emergency orders for as long as the COVID-19 crisis exists or until courts rule otherwise.

This case is a response to a request from a federal court for an advisory opinion.

Justices heard hours of arguments Wednesday about whether Whitmer has illegally made far-reaching decisions without input from the Legislature. Whitmer, a Democrat, has repeatedly ordered virus-related restrictions under a 1945 law that grants power to declare emergencies when public safety is at risk. But Whitmer’s critics, especially Republicans, instead point to a 1976 law that says lawmakers get a say in emergency declarations after 28 days. Whitmer has imposed — and eased — restrictions on Michigan’s economy, K-12 school system and health care, all in a desire to reduce the risk of the highly contagious virus.