Michigan Legislature Sues To Block Whitmer's Virus Orders

May 6, 2020

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

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Republican-led Legislature has sued Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, asking a judge to declare invalid and unenforceable her stay-at-home order and other measures issued to combat the coronavirus. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, says a 1945 law giving the governor broad emergency powers governs local, not statewide, declarations like one in place since March. The suit also says a 1976 law gives Whitmer emergency authority only for a limited period that expired. Though Whitmer has gradually lifted restrictions to let some businesses reopen, Republican leaders say the Legislature should have input. Whitmer defends her moves as necessary to save lives.

Michigan’s attorney general is backing Whitmer, telling local law enforcement officials that her stay-at-home directive and restrictions on places of public accommodations are valid and enforceable. Tuesday's letter comes days after Republican lawmakers refused to extend an emergency declaration. Dana Nessel, a Democrat, says her letter was necessary to clarify the situation after numerous legislators and other officials questioned the validity of the Democratic governor’s orders to curb the coronavirus. The measures, Nessel says, are a “valid exercise” of Whitmer’s broad emergency powers under a 1945 law. The Republican-led Legislature appears likely to sue.